Child endangerment at early child education centers

The owner of DeAngelis Studio of music in Massachusetts was sentenced to almost a year of probation after he pleaded guilty to charges of allowing a certain teacher to be alone with the children yet the teacher was under investigations for child rape cases. Nancy Burger was found guilty of child endangerment and recklessness by a court in Haverhill and will undergo eleven months of probation.1

As a teacher or the parent in custody of a child that is below the age of eighteen years or under twenty-one years for the case of a disabled child, you are supposed to ensure that the child under your care is not in any substantial risk to his or her safety.

This means the law finds you capable if there was abuse to the child, there was any form of torture or cruelty to the child or you administered corporalpunishment in a manner that was likely to create a risk of serious physical harm to the child under your care.2

In many states across the United States, it is illegal to conduct corporal punishment on a kid at school. Where corporal punishment is allowed, you are deemed to be endangering the children if you administer unwarranted disciplinary measures repeatedly with the knowledge if such measures continue, they are likely to cause a serious impairment of the child’s development or mental health. 2

The child endangerment law also covers the child from being coerced, permitted, encouraged, hired, compelled, employed or made to act or participate in the production or dissemination of any performance is known to be reasonably obscene, nudity-oriented or sexually oriented matter. 2 4

As in the case above, you can be prosecuted for allowing the child to be on the same parcel or real property within a hundred feet to the person that has been convicted or under investigation for a violation of law, which puts others in danger. Such violations include murder and rape.2

According to the law, you can be found guilty of child endangerment if the court finds that you have performed either of the events below

  • If you caused a child to suffer mental or physical pain, that was unjustifiable
  • If you willfully permitted or caused a child to get injured
  • If you willfully permitted a child to be placed in a situation that was dangerous.
  • Permitted or caused a child under your care to get injured 4 2

The law treats child endangerment cases similarly to child abuse. However, when it comes to child endangerment, the conviction does not base its case on that the child was actually injured, which is contrary to child abuse conviction requirements.4

During the trial, the prosecutor will prove that you acted negligently if you did any of the four things above or your actions were unreasonable while disciplining a child under your care. You may also be prosecuted if your actions are thought to have a likelihood of inflicting death or great bodily harm to a given child.4

What is felony child endangerment?

The felony child endangerment charged is an enhanced charge that is caused by aggravating circumstances. When elevating the child endangerment offense, the prosecutor looks at the aggravating factors of the case. The first aggravating factor is the intention or the will of the accused. If it is proven that the offender intentionally placed the child under a threat of danger, he or she could face a felony endangerment charge.3

The degree of risk is also taken into account when evaluating a child endangerment charge for a felony. The higher the degree of risk; the higher the charge. In some states like Ohio and California, the charge is increased if the risk is likely to produce a great harm to the body of the child or cause death. Other states would increase the charge if the child endured some mental suffering in the process.3

Other risks are presumed to occur by statute. For example, if the suspect in a child endangerment case consumed banned substances in the presence of a kid or drove a vehicle with a child while intoxicated, it is presumed that the child is in danger of an imminent death of grievous body harm. Different states require different levels of proof of danger in this case. Understanding how much of the evidence is required is critical for the defense teams to build their case.3
What are the penalties if convicted?

What are the penalties if convicted?

If convicted of a misdemeanor, you may serve up to six months in a county jail, have a protective order served against you, or up to $1,000 in fines. You may also be required to undergo treatment counseling or informal probation of up to for years.3 4

As for the felony charges, the fines may go up to $10,000 or up to six years in state prison. You may also be put on probation for minimum four years or given a strike if you like in California.4

ECE teachers should take all measures to ensure the children under their care are protected at all times from any harm whether physical or emotional to avoid possible conviction.