Unattended Children: A Sign Of Child Neglect

In May, a man was arrested in Walt Disney World's Animal Kingdom after he had an altercation with a cast member and a guest in the theme park.

According to the police report, the man got angry at a Disney cast member after she attempted to remove a toddler from their stroller and put them and the stroller in a safer spot because the toddler had been left alone for an extended period of time.

When the father arrived, he came rushing towards the cast member. He was yelling in Spanish and was very upset that his child had been moved from where he had left her. The cast member tried to calm him down to ease the situation. However, the father allegedly started to "jump" up and down and began "hitting and kicking" the wall next to him. Then, he allegedly spat at the cast member in her face.

Another cast member told police that the father approached her to say he had lost their child and attempted to locate his child by speaking to Walt Disney World employees. He was allegedly "running around and not fully operating with WDW (Walt Disney World)."

When the father and the child's mother were notified of the location of their baby, the father began to act aggressively toward the Disney cast members. One cast member witnessed the father spit in the other cast member's face during the altercation. As a result, police arrived at the scene and arrested the father for battery.

According to the father's statement to the police, he was on vacation with his wife and two daughters. His wife and eldest daughter planned to go on one of the attractions in Dinoland USA. After that, his wife will stay with the younger daughter who did not meet the ride requirements, and he would go with his older daughter so that he could ride.

Apparently, there was a misunderstanding and the younger daughter was left unattended for about 15 to 30 minutes. The father said he was not concerned about the child's safety because he assumed there were cameras all over the park. Emmanuel Detres "Father Arrested for Child Neglect, Assault Inside Disney Park"  https://insidethemagic.net/2023/07/disney-world-man-arrested-animal-kingdom-emd1/ (Jul. 08, 2023).

Commentary and Checklist

Leaving a toddler in a stroller alone in a theme park for any length of time invites all manner of bad outcomes. The child could feel frightened and abandoned, and it could lead to an abduction.  

As a result, a toddler left alone in a public area is a red flag of child neglect.

What are other signs of possible child neglect?

  • The parent or caregiver ignores the child's physical, emotional, medical/dental, psychological, or educational needs
  • The child is born addicted to drugs.
  • Family lives in poverty or homelessness and cannot or will not care for the child.
  • The parent or caregiver does not bond with the child and lacks parenting skills.
  • The parent suffers from mental illness or was abused or neglected as a child.
  • The child is living in inadequate housing without sufficient food, water, and heat and is improperly dressed for the weather.
  • Child is dirty, in poor physical health, dental disease, and always hungry.
  • The child has excessive absences at school.
  • The child displays low self-esteem, depression, a need for constant affection and attention or is withdrawn and unable to form bonds.
  • The child is left alone for extended periods of time or is caring for younger siblings.
  • Child is forced from the home or abandoned.
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