22 Aug Endangering the Welfare of a Minor in Missouri
What is Endangering the Welfare of a Minor in Missouri and how is it played out in the Courts? There was a recent incident in Jefferson County. A mom had gotten into a fight with her adolescent daughter, who went to bed angry. In the middle of the night, the daughter got out of bed and decided to sneak out of the house. She walked a few streets over to a friend’s house. The friend’s mom called the police. The police went to the parent’s house and cited her for Endangering the Welfare of a Minor.
Endangering the Welfare of a Minor in Missouri has a few different provisions. The one most commonly used against parents is when they “negligently” create a “substantial risk of harm” to the child. In this case, the mother that called the police was worried about the daughter walking around in the middle of the night by herself. So how did the parent in this case “negligently” create the risk of harm when it was the child that snuck out? In this case, the police citation noted that the mother was extremely intoxicated. By being inebriated, she wasn’t in a position to listen for or prevent her adolescent from running off. The mother’s drunken state is likely what drove the police officer’s decision to cite her for Endangerment.
However, that is not necessarily required. The bar is lowered for smaller children. There was a case a few years ago where two young parents were charged with Endangerment. They had a three year old daughter that figured out how to unlock and open their back door. One night after the parents went to bed, the 3 year old let herself out. A neighbor saw her wandering around the backyard and called the police. In both cases, the parental conduct was seen as creating the situation for the child to be put into “danger”. It didn’t take much with the 3 year old since she was so young. The parents ended up childproofing the doors so that the child couldn’t escape again, and that solved the problem.
What are the lessons? If you have a small child, make sure your doors and windows are adequately childproofed. If you have an older child, make sure you are in a responsible state when they are around. If you find yourself charged with Endangering the Welfare of a Minor in Missouri, don’t hesitate to get an Attorney who is going to help you defend yourself and your role as a parent.