Parents of Kids who Get Too Many Bruises May Be Charged with Neglect

Hi Folks — This story comes to us from Australia, where the federal government is telling child protective workers to consider — and classify  — kids who “often” hurt themselves as at a “high risk of neglect.” “Accident-prone children might be the victims of poor parental supervision,” is how AdelaideNow sums the reasoning up.  Thus, anyone treating (or seeing?) bruised or clumsy kids is told to assess the role that parental supervision — or lack thereof — played, even in minor accidents.

The theory behind this isn’t bad. It’s true that severely neglected children, especially young ones, may be hurting themselves because their parents are (as this study suggests) totally out of it, on drugs, or passed out on the couch.

But I have to think this call for scrutiny and immediate suspicion would have a chilling effect on any parents ready to let their kids have some Free-Range, old-fashioned fun and independence — like riding a bike, or climbing a tree. If a kid wipes out on his bike one week, bonks his head on a branch the next, is he a lovingly tended child with parents who believe kids can (and even should) endure a couple bruises? Or is he  a neglected child? And how can we be sure the evaluator will be able to tell the difference?

Or even believe there IS a difference?

My fear is not so much that the authorities will mistake normal childhood injuries for the negligence endured in the home of severely drug-addled parents. I fear that, increasingly, normal childhood injuries won’t be considered normal anymore, period. So any kid sustaining them will automatically be considered neglected, because why weren’t the parents right behind him on that tree, or standing under it with a safety net?

The New South Wales Children’s Commissioner quoted in the aritcle, Megan Mitchell, said, “I don’t think we can expect parents to be super-parents but they need to know what their child is doing as best they can.”

What the heck does that mean? Is it enough to know my kid is playing outside and will be home by dinner? Or should I know every activity he will be participating in from 10 a.m. till 6 on a Saturday, including that he’s going to jump off a swing at 12:16? The commissioner went on to say that she would “hope” that prosecuting parents “would be reasonably rare and that people in authority would establish a relationship with the families and then make a good judgment about whether there is a real problem or not.”

But where we see no problem, the authorities could. And the authorities have…authority. Therein lies the problem. – L.

So if he falls off his bike and gets a little banged up — say, twice or three times — are his parents “neglectful”?

12 Responses

  1. I used to be abe tto fund good indo ffrom your blog articles.

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  3. Gotta protect those future taxpayers by putting mom and dad in jail!

  4. My parents would still be in prison if they were charged for all of my childhood bumps and bruises. As a child growing up in the 50’s and 60’s, I was always getting banged up: falling out of trees, skinning my knees after falling roller skating on asphalt roads (no helmet), playing tackle football with friends without helmet or pads. The biggest injury was when I was running and tried to jump over a fence with a glass in my hand. Caught my foot on the way over and fell on a cement sidewalk. Glass broke and cut a big slice across the palm of my left hand. Just missed slitting my wrist. Bled all over a neighbors carpets on the way to the kitchen sink. Trip to the emergency room and 8 stitches. Plenty of other injuries too. Burns and cuts from doing something stupid that was completely my fault. Parents had nothing to do with it or no way to prevent me from doing what I did. Learned from the experiences and didn’t do really stupid stuff the second time. e.g. No longer jumped fences carrying a glass in my hand. Many parents today are over protective to the point of being ridiculous. Kids are better off outside climbing trees, jumping fences, playing sports, etc. rather than being confined to the house watching the boob tube or surfing the internet. The bumps and bruises will heal and the kids will learn from the experience.

  5. Bumps and bruises are a right of passage! Not just for kids. Our daughter never really got many “owies”, but our son! As an athlete he was always breaking a toe, dislocating a finger, a few other broken bones and a couple of black eyes. No one batted an eye at us, but fast forward a decade to my sister’s kids and both of them were always visiting the ER-after about the 6th trip, while waiting for x-rays, my sister was shocked to see a police officer come in and start asking her questions!
    Of course it’s not just kids. Last summer I fell twice in one day and my husband took me in to the ER w/ a torn up left arm, a gash on my eye and a total “shiner”/concussion and my right knee was pretty bad-they asked him to leave the exam area so they could ask me if I wanted to press charges!!! I could see their point. But I assured them it was just the weather and my RA that made me unsteady on my feet and I had unfortunately done all this damage to myself!

  6. All kids get bruises at some time.

  7. I adopted my two grandaughters who are now four and five years old, thirteen months apart. Round one was a sibling group who were five, eight and thirteen and had spent years in foster care. I’ve had much interactions with children’s services. Having said that I was totally floored to arrive home from work to find a letter on the door from COS that there had been an allegation of abuse launched against me.
    Turns out that as my girls have become “interested “in their privates ( like most normal kids this age ) the trying to see if the tub toys, one being Arial the mermaid, could “fit inside “. I of course nipped it in the bud and explained not to do that. My five year old told her pre k teacher. I was questioned and jokingly explained. They were concerned they they had seen their two year old brother’s penis, knew the word penis and vagina. Omg. I told them a few funny stories about their inquisitive nature and thought no more of it. Then came CPS. Fortunately they agreed that this was frivolous, wrapped up quickly and that was it. Scared to breathe nowadays with children. Lastly, I had them wait in the car in broad daylight while I ran into the bank in a very safe neighborhood. Did I get an education in that taboo. Raising children at 60 is a whole new world. Love your blog.

  8. Sorry if I missed it, but have you read the book “Antifragile” by Nassim Nicholas Taleb?

  9. Hi John — Have read parts of it. Planning to read it all! And from now on, I’m blogging at . Please join me there! — lenore

  10. My son has cerebral palsy and his left foot will drag when he gets moving too quickly or he gets tired. This causes him to easily lose his balance, resulting in falls and sometimes bruises. While i think the idea behind this comes from a caring thought, it just seems to be another way for parents to be judged about kids just being kids.

  11. If you want to protect your sweetheart from the bruises you may surround him/her with the safety items and toys. Make for them comfortable and securely playground

  12. Lenore is a friggin hero!!!! I taught my sons to be independent and a leader through the same parenting I received. Here’s a lunch go explore , make mistakes and LEARN! Hovering parents ruin confidence and create sheep who can’t think for themselves! I always made them take Wilkie talkies and check in every ten minutes then twenty then half hour etc as they grew. It’s pathetic that I watch parents driving their kids ten houses away to the bus stop! Fat and dependent is how those kids grew up while mine are fit and successful.

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