Child Endangerment: Leaving Children Unattended And Other Signs Of Neglect

A woman was arrested in Chicago, Illinois after an 11-year-old boy stopped police officers on New Year's Eve and told them that he and three (3) other children - ages one, four, and seven - had been left alone in a home nearby. The woman faces child endangerment charges. The relationship between the children and the woman is not clear. (Jan. 02, 2024).

Commentary and Checklist

Child endangerment is a criminal charge based on improper conduct that can lead to harm or injury of a child. Child endangerment charges can stem from neglect, such as failure to properly, care for, feed, or house a child, and can include even more heinous acts such as denying medical care and physical abuse. Child neglect can include not only physical, but also emotional, educational, and medical neglect.

By allegedly leaving the children at home alone, the woman put them in potential danger.

In the U.S., some states have laws designating the specific minimum age requirement for a child to be left home alone, and others do not. There are 36 states without a minimum age requirement. Those states with a minimum age requirement for a child to be left home alone have an age range of at least eight to 12 years old.

Safe adults who have, or who work with children, can help protect children and have them get the assistance they need by being observant as to signs of possible neglect.

What are signs of possible child neglect safe adults should know?

·      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.

·      Child is left unsupervised.

·      Illegal drugs and/or firearms are present in the home.

·      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·      The child displays low self-esteem, depression, a need for constant affection and attention or is withdrawn and unable to form bonds.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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