SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – As reports of child deaths at the hands of their parents continue to flood the news in Illinois, state Rep. Curtis Tarver, D-Chicago, is taking steps to ensure that people who intentionally deprive and endanger their children are brought to justice.
“It absolutely breaks my heart to hear stories about parents creating life-threatening environments for their children by maliciously denying them food, safety and medical care – especially when that family has been in contact with DCFS and law enforcement for abusing their child in the past,” Tarver said. “This is happening right now, in all corners of our state, but in far too many cases it’s impossible to bring these parents to justice until it’s too late to save that innocent child.”
Senate Bill 414 was introduced to close the gap in prosecution between unintentional child endangerment, a Class A Misdemeanor for the first offense, and instances of child endangerment that ultimately lead to the death of a child, which results in a Class Three Felony. This legislation is a response to the death of a six year old Illinois child who was repeatedly starved by his parents as a form of punishment. Although the boy weighed 17 pounds at the time of his death, a third of the typical weight for a child his age, the parents would only have received a Class A Misdemeanor if he had survived. Under this measure, intentionally endangering the life or health of a child would become a Class Four Felony on par with the aggravated battery of a child.
“It’s outrageous that the parent of a child who survives starvation or the willful denial of medical care, which is just as harmful as violent physical abuse, receives the same treatment under the law as a single parent caught leaving their child home to make it to their shift at work,” Tarver said. “All children deserve to grow up in a safe home with adults who care for them and provide at least the basic necessities they need to grow. Unless the sick individuals who willfully harm their own children are brought to justice, we will continue seeing tragedy after preventable tragedy in our newsfeeds and our neighborhoods.”