Criminal child abuse or neglect cases can be difficult to handle because of the raw emotions that usually accompany the alleged victim. An alleged child abuse victim is usually assigned a victim advocate by the state. The child abuse victim is also regularly removed from the home if the alleged abuse or neglect took place at the hands of a caregiver such as a parent or other adult household member.
Words do mean things. In Florida, child abuse and child neglect have different meanings. According to the AP, a woman was charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor for helping her son with a video in which he set himself on fire as part of the “fire challenge” trend on social media. Why this was not thought to be abuse or neglect is beyond me and perhaps the reporter is incorrect.
Essentially ,the difference between child abuse and child neglect is that child abuse is the intentional infliction of a mental or physical injury to a child while child neglect is a caregiver’s omission to provide things necessary to maintain the child’s well being. Child abuse is the act and child neglect is the failure to act. In Florida, child abuse includes encouragement of any person to commit an act of abuse. A creative prosecutor could argue that encouraging your child by filming the act of setting oneself on fire fits the definition of child abuse. I would think the government could also argue that the act of filming the act is failing to properly supervise the child.
There is no misdemeanor child abuse or child neglect charge in Florida. Child abuse and child neglect are always a felony. The maximum sentence or punishment varies depending upon the level of injury. If this mother were in Florida and if it could be argued that in abusing the child she caused great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement, then that is called aggravated child abuse which is punishable by up to thirty (30) years in prison.
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