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A Child Injured Through Omission: A Form Of Child Neglect

Police in Texas arrested a married couple for neglecting their infant daughter.

According to the arrest affidavit, the couple, originally from Florida, called 911 from their motel room, reporting that their three-month-old daughter was unresponsive.

The baby was rushed to a hospital by ambulance. The attending physician determined she had several broken bones in different stages of healing. She also had bleeding on her brain and in one lung.

Police questioned the couple and at least one relative. The relative told them that the mother had told her about some of the injuries earlier in March. The mother said she would take the baby to a doctor, but did not.

The affidavit states that the father of the baby had been staying in Texas while he was undergoing military training. His wife and child were visiting him in May. During the visit, both parents noticed that the baby had no appetite, appeared to be in pain, and had been sleeping a lot. However, they did not seek any medical help until the baby became unresponsive.

Both parents were booked in the county jail on charge of injury to a child by omission. Katrina Webber "Couple failed to get medical help for injured baby daughter, police say" www.ksat.com (Oct. 12, 2018).


Commentary and Checklist

A parent’s failure to provide medical care when a child is injured or sick is considered a form of child maltreatment. It is a form of illegal child neglect. Often, when the child is abused by one or both of the parents, they do not seek medical help because they do not want to risk being arrested for child abuse and losing custody of the child.

In this matter, the charge rendered was injury to a child by omission. The omission was the failure to seek reasonable medical attention for the child even though the parents saw signs of harm. This charge allows prosecutors to seek justice for the child even though the prosecutors cannot prove who committed the actual abuse.

Anyone can report reasonable suspicions of child abuse or neglect.

What should people know about child neglect?

  • Child neglect is a form of child maltreatment.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines child neglect as the failure to provide for a child's basic physical, emotional, or educational needs or to protect a child from harm or potential harm, even when harm may not be the intended consequence.
  • Child neglect can be: physical, emotional, medical/dental, psychological, educational, a lack of supervision, and exposure to violence.
  • Neglect is usually an ongoing pattern of inadequate care, readily observable by individuals in close contact with the child.
  • Neglect accounts for nearly 80 percent of child abuse cases.
  • A child with disabilities or one suffering a chronic illness is at greater risk of neglect.
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