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Reasonable Independence For Children In Activities

Concerning allowing children reasonable independence to engage in activities without finding that the child is abused or neglected.
2020 Regular Session
Children & Domestic Matters
Crimes, Corrections, & Enforcement
Bill Summary

Under current law, a child is neglected or dependent if the child's environment is injurious to the child's welfare. The bill clarifies that the child's environment is injurious to the child's welfare because the child's parent has placed the child in or failed to remove the child from a situation that a reasonable person would realize requires judgment or actions beyond the child's level of maturity, physical condition, or mental ability and that results in bodily injury or a substantial risk of immediate and grave harm as a result of a blatant disregard of parent or caretaker responsibilities.

A child is not neglected or dependent if a child who is of sufficient maturity, physical condition, and mental ability is left by the child's parent, guardian, or legal custodian, under conditions that are reasonably deemed safe and secure sufficient to avoid substantial risk of physical harm, to engage in independent activities specified in the bill.

The bill amends the criminal code to reflect that a person does not commit child abuse if the person is exercising reasonable judgment in allowing a child to engage in independent activities as described in language added to the dependency or neglect statute in the bill.

The bill amends the definition of neglect in the children's code to state that a child is not neglected when allowed to participate in independent activities specified in the bill that a reasonable and prudent parent would consider safe given the child's maturity, condition, and abilities.

(Note: Italicized words indicate new material added to the original summary; dashes through words indicate deletions from the original summary.)

(Note: This summary applies to the reengrossed version of this bill as introduced in the second house.)




Bill Text

The effective date for bills enacted without a safety clause is August 7, 2024, if the General Assembly adjourns sine die on May 8, 2024, unless otherwise specified. Details