Evidence Of Knowledge Of Child Abuse And Omission Leads To Criminal Liability

A 10-year-old Wisconsin boy, who survived extreme physical abuse as a toddler, has died unexpectedly. The boy was just 18 months old when his mother's boyfriend physically abused him.

In July 2014, the abuser, who was 29 at the time, was convicted of critically abusing the toddler. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison, followed by 10 years of extended supervision.

Court documents show that the abuser told investigators he grabbed the toddler by the leg and threw him 10 to 15 feet into a wall or TV stand. The abuser said the toddler cried, but seemed fine and he put him to bed. Later, the boy had vomit coming out of his nose and was limp. That's when the abuser called 911.

While at the hospital, the boy showed signs of a brain injury, according to the criminal complaint, and previous injuries.

According to investigators, a cellphone belonging to the boy's mother, had a recently sent message to the abuser stating, "as long as we keep our stories straight, we may be okay." The boy's mother pled no contest to neglecting a child, obstructing an officer, and bail jumping. She was sentenced to 60 days in jail and two years of probation.

Heather Poltrock "Child who survived 2014 Forest County child abuse dies at age 10".  https://www.wsaw.com/2022/06/13/child-who-survived-2013-forest-county-child-abuse-dies-age-10/ (Jun. 13, 2022).

Commentary and Checklist

The mother of the child in the source article did not protect her child from abuse and appears to have actively tried to cover up the perpetrator’s crime when police came to question her about the incident.

According to the Children’s Bureau, the Federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) defines child abuse and neglect as the following, at minimum: “any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse, or exploitation.”

What are the risk factors that can result in child neglect? The Children’s Bureau explains that the presence of a risk factor does not mean that a child will be neglected. However, multiple risk factors are a cause for concern.

Research shows that the following familial and societal factors place children at greater risk of being harmed or endangered by neglect:

  • Poverty
  • Having a single parent
  • Having a dysfunctional family structure
  • Lacking adequate support systems
  • Lacking adequate family resources
  • Mental health problems within the family
  • Substance abuse
  • Domestic violence
  • Parental childhood abuse
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