Unsupervised youngsters could lead to criminal charges

Published 9:10 pm Saturday, October 17, 2009

Dear Lawyer Mark:

I’ve got a problem with my neighbors. Now, I know that people have a right to raise their kids the way they want, but my neighbors don’t watch their four kids at all.

These kids are from 18 months to 5 years old, and they run around the neighborhood like a bunch of animals.

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I mentioned something to the mom not too long ago, but she just laughed and said that “Billy,” the five year old, was old enough to watch them while they play.

I don’t care about them running around my yard, Lawyer Mark, but I’m just afraid that they may get hurt with no supervision. What can I do?


Dear Fretting:

First, I would recommend that you talk to your neighbor again about your concerns with the lack of supervision.

A 5 year old is simply not mature enough to watch three other children running the neighborhood, especially when he is playing as well.

If the neighbor is still unwilling to do anything about it, I would recommend that you notify children’s services, and if need be, the police department. They will then take the appropriate steps to see that the children are properly supervised.

The Court of Appeal upheld a conviction of a parent charged with child endangerment, a first degree misdemeanor.

In State v. Shaffter, the mother had left her 2 year old son upstairs in her house playing with a 6 year old girl while the mother was in the kitchen.

Less than 10 minutes later, a police officer knocked on the door with the 2 year old in his arms, stating the child had almost stepped out in front of his cruiser 100 yards away from the house.

The Court stated that due to the closeness of the house to the streets, and the nearness to a local pond, the mother failed to properly supervise him when leaving him unsupervised by an adult for five minutes even though the child was inside the house.

Your neighbor’s situation sounds a lot worse than that in the case, so she could potentially be facing criminal penalties. You may want to show her a copy of this article when you talk to her about supervision.

If you have a question, please forward it to Mark K. McCown, 311 Park Avenue, Ironton, Ohio 45638, or e-mail it to him at LawyerMark@yahoo.com.