In Berea, Kentucky, Bobby Jones, 27, faces first degree child criminal abuse charges for leaving his son out in the sun for 90 minutes — enough for the boy to receive serious sunburn due to the lack of sunscreen. It is only the latest in such sunburn cases and raises a question about the criminalization of such negligence.
These are tough questions, particularly in this case where the 2-year-old boy suffered second and third degree burns. However, an alternative response to such parental negligence (absent a knowing or intentional act of abuse) would be suspension or loss of custody. There is the added remedy of a tort action for negligence.
This boy’s burns makes me both sick and angry. However, as discussed here, there is a steady criminalization of negligence in this country that a worrisome trend. We need to know more about what Jones was doing at the time, but question is whether being a poor father is the same as being a felon.