Charged with Child Abuse?

I am wasting time at work, and came upon this story http://www.stuff.co.nz/world/americas/5815357/Dad-used-nine-year-old-as-designated-driver

He let a 9 year old drive when he was drunk, andd has been charged with child abuse.

It’s a pretty sure bet that the reporting on such “oddity” stories is never going to be particularly good, but why the hell would you be charged with Child Abuse?

I think it would fall under “knowingly and intentionally putting a child in a situation which could cause the child grave physical harm.” Just my guess.

On that basis, if I’m driving drunk with my kid in the car, I could face a similar charge?

It’s kinda hard to wrap my head around the child abuse.

Something like: Contributing to delinquency of a minor, child endagerment (maybe), or along the lines of “allowing a vehicle to be operated in unsafe manner” or even the original charge of DUI (on the basis that he was still “in charge” of the vehicle, even if he wasn’t driving).

Yes, I’ve seen people charged similarly for DUI with a child in the car. Or for intentionally taking a child into an unsafe place (like a crack house.) The charge may not stand up in court, but I don’t think it’s an unreasonable charge. (And it could potentially be a clue for the judge setting bail to pay attention, this isn’t just a run-of-the-mill idiot. Just a guess on my part.)

Also, depending on the jurisdiction, “child endangerment” may or may not be a separate charge from abuse. Or maybe the journalist who wrote the story wasn’t very precise in his word choice.

This article says the charges are “one felony count of child endangerment, a misdemeanor count of child abuse and habitual-offender fourth offense based on previous convictions.” So it sounds like the child abuse was probably emotional/mental, that kind of thing. The worse charge is the felony child endangerment, which is, I suspect, the actual making the kid drive the car part of it. (She did pretty well from what I saw - the gas station footage showed the kid getting the van pretty close to the pumps. Better than I’ve seen some adults do…)

Besides the danger involved in just driving, can you imagine what would have happened if she’d suddenly slipped up when driving around gas pumps? That could have been scary.

We don’t necessarily know all the facts. It could be, for instance, that Dad threatened the kid with harm if she refused to drive.

Did the child know how to drive? A lot of farm type kids drive trucks and tractors and no one blinks an eye.

The fact that it was 3am suggests that, at the very least, the kid probably wasn’t entirely thrilled with the idea.

In Ohio, absolutely. Here’s the relevant section of the Ohio statute on child abuse.

And the very first line of the child abuse statute says

Emphasis mine.

Not 9 year olds, and not on public streets.

I can’t be the only person here who has seen little kids operating vehicles in country areas. I don’t think 9 year olds should be long haul truckers or Indy 500 drivers, but I have seen little kids who know how to drive driving.

Did she know how to drive? It looks like she did.

No, I don’t think 9 year old children should be out driving their drunk fathers around at 3:00 am, but as long as he didn’t beat her or otherwise force her to drive, or if she didn’t know how, I think a child abuse charge is overkill. He’s a drunk fool, but not an abuser.

Driving is easy; you could train a monkey to do it. What takes age and experience is avoiding all the other idiots out there.

A car driven by an adult can still cause serious harm or death. He has put a child behind the wheel. If the child is not a good driver, he essentially handed it a weapon. He doesn’t get to use the ‘but the child knows how to drive just fine’ defense.

Children are not legally permitted to drive. He has forced the child to commit a crime.

It’s 3 AM. We have seen studies that say that driving tired is just as dangerous as driving drunk. 9 yr olds get tuckered out at 3 AM.

He has put his child’s safety at considerable risk AND abanded his duty to look after said child…all because he was drunk.

She was driving a car (better than a lot of people I know), not robbing a bank; and I think the legal penalty aspect would be on him and not the child. His vehicle, keys in his control and he let a child without a valid permit or license drive. I think a stern lecture on waiting until you are legally old enough and have the proper paperwork would be in order, but she’s hardly a criminal.

No question that he is a drunken fool and not going to be winning a parenting award anytime soon, but I’m just not seeing the omg he’s a child abuser +1111111 here.

The phrase “child abuse” has a lot of emotional connotations related to sexual and physical abuse of children, but I think it’s reasonable to assert that forcing a nine-year-old to be your designated driver is an abuse of the child; they are really not meant to be used that way.

Well that kinda makes more sense - I would agree with the Child Endangerment part quite enthusiastically, and a “misdemeanor” child abuse charge makes it sound more like, “don’t be a dumbass dad by asking your kids to do illegal things” than anything else.

CPS worker here. It varies state by state and county by county, but in Michigan we’d file this under “Improper supervision”. There’s have to be a bit more history than just that, however, to get you charged with it. If this was the first referral, probably not.

It sounded like a trumped up charge for the media to me. Child endangerment, sure. Child abuse, hells no. It really cheapens true child abuse allegations to me.

“Child abuse” is a very broad term, covering physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, exploitation and negligent treatment. In the WHO’s definition of “child abuse” this incident would certainly qualify as negligent treatment.

If junior’s bedroom doubles as a meth lab, that is “true” child abuse, and so is putting a nine-year-old on a booster seat and letting her drive you to the packy at three in the morning because you’re too hammered to drive in a straight line.

It’s not the same thing as breaking a kid’s arm because he wet the bed or using them for your own sexual gratification, but it’s still a form of child abuse.

I’d refer you back to Post #9 where I cited the relevant Ohio statute which defines child abuse. You can argue that the terminology is misleading, but the charge is by the book.

Plus the child abuse is a misdemeanor charge. The child endangerment is a felony charge.