New Md. Child Neglect Law Could Have Big Impact | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

WAMU 88.5 : News

Filed Under:

New Md. Child Neglect Law Could Have Big Impact

Play associated audio
Maryland lieutenant governor Anthony Brown (center) receives tour of the Baltimore Child Abuse Center.  At left is the center's director Adam Rosenberg.
Royce Bair: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ironrodart/4265327611/
Maryland lieutenant governor Anthony Brown (center) receives tour of the Baltimore Child Abuse Center. At left is the center's director Adam Rosenberg.

On October 1, Maryland became the last state in the country to make child neglect a crime -- in this case, a misdemeanor offense punishable by up to five years in prison.

At the Baltimore Child Abuse Center, painted butterflies decorate the walls.  They're one of the many ways the center tries to be a bright place, because many of the stories told in here are anything but. Children suspected of being abused come here to be interviewed, as authorities believe it is easier for them to talk in a place like this than a police station.

"A child is able to be a child when they're here," says Adam Rosenberg, BCAC's executive director. "And they can go from being a victim back to being a child."

Each child who comes to the center gets to decorate a butterfly. Rosenberg says that, unfortunately, those butterflies cover all the walls of the four-story building -- as many as 887 just in 2010.

Many of those interviewed at the center were not abused, just neglected, and that's something Rosenberg says they couldn't do much worth before the signing of the new child neglect law. Previously their only recourse was to make a referral to child protective services.

"For years, Maryland has had a neglect statute for vulnerable adults and animals, but not children," says lieutenant governor Anthony Brown, saying that it was a major oversight that they were eager to correct.

The general assembly approved the law earlier this year, after bills seeking the measure were defeated the previous three years.  One of many reasons for that was concern the law was too broad.  

Brown says disagrees: "We're not intending to prosecute parents or guardians who are unable to sufficiently take care of their children due to an involuntary condition such as poverty or homelessness."

One of the hopes Adam Rosenberg has for the law is that people who see child neglect may feel more inclined to report it.

"We're only as successful as people who report abuse," says Rosenberg. "We're not going to find this on our own.  And, this battle against child abuse and neglect is something that folks like me and you in our private lives need to be able to take a stand, and pick up a phone and report that they see something."

Last year, Maryland's child protective services received more than 14,000 reports of suspected child neglect, and confirmed more than 4,000 of them.

NPR

In This Test Kitchen, The Secret To A Great Cookbook Is Try, Try Again

Yotam Ottolenghi and his partner have a thriving food empire that includes wildly successful cookbooks. We go inside their London test kitchen as recipes are put through their paces.
NPR

Bugs: Not What's For Dinner — Until They're Tastier, Maybe

A U.K. researcher says the environmental argument for eating bugs isn't working on its own. She says chefs and policymakers must "make insect dishes appeal as food, not just a way to save the planet."
NPR

Fact Check: 3 Questions Answered About Bill Clinton's LLC

Does Bill Clinton have a secret corporation that he is using to hide money? Is it intended to pay a lower tax rate? Or is it something else entirely?
NPR

Questions Remain About How To Use Data From License Plate Scanners

The scanners are standard equipment for police, but what's not settled is what happens to all the data collected. That data can link people to certain addresses and flag unusual activity.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.