15 September 2011

Time to Punish Neglecting Parents

Neglecting Parents
Jayson Paloga, 4-years old, and his younger sister Jamaica Jane, 2-years old, were sleeping inside their house in Bauang, La Union last 17 August 2011 when fire broke out. The fire sparked by unattended candle killed both children. Their sister Aysha, 7-years old, and John, 10-years old, managed to survive.

All four children were left alone in their house by their parents. Witnesses said the two adults, Arlene and Jonathan, Sr., were having a drinking spree with their neighbors when the fire broke out.

There are many examples of this kind of abuse in the Philippines that have remained unpunished. Neglecting a child is one of the forms of abuse that has not really been integrated in the country's awareness. Maybe because there was no intent to commit violence on children or cause injury, but it does not excuse the fact that the action of the parents in La Union put the children in a situation with "potential" to cause injury and threaten the child's welfare.

In other countries, just by leaving a child outside a store, while the parent or guardian takes a quick peek at the products beings sold will already raise some serious alarm. In New York Penal Law, for example, it was stated there that endangering charges could be filed if, "being a parent, guardian or other person legally charged with the care or custody of a child less than 18 years old, he fails or refuses to exercise reasonable diligence in the control of such child to prevent him from becoming an 'abused child,' a 'neglected child,' a 'juvenile delinquent' or a 'person in need of supervision,' as those terms are defined in the Family Court Act."

Since a parent or other person with legal custody of a child has legal obligations to properly care for the child, failure to do so can result in prosecution for "endangering," for particular acts, omissions, or a course of conduct over time. Can anybody in the Philippines tell us here if this was done to any parents or guardians before? Just cite one example case.

Unlike Philippines, parents in other countries have been prosecuted for failure to provide adequate medical care, as well as for failure to provide sufficient food and shelter, for providing alcoholic beverages, and for leaving children alone at home or in motor vehicle. A parent who fails to "exercise reasonable diligence" in getting the child to school could also be charged with "endangering," since truancy from school is a basis for find a child to be a Person in Need of Supervision (PINS).

Many researchers include neglect or harm caused by a lack of care on the part of parents or other caregivers as part of the definition of abuse. Conditions such as hunger and poverty are sometimes included within the definition of neglect.

There are many laws enacted already and definition of child abuse has been revised several times already. It is time to ask the authorities to get their acts together and implement the laws, while the lawmakers increase the penalty for the crime. Let us give our children a peaceful sleep and keep abusive parents off our society’s keep.