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A bad Sunburn can equal Child abuse?

The Nanny state run amok.

BEREA, Ky. (AP) -- A central Kentucky father has pleaded not guilty to a criminal abuse charge that was brought after his 2-year-old son suffered severe sunburn.

Police said 27-year-old Bobby J. Jones' son was outside for about 90 minutes Sunday, apparently without any protection from the sun.

Authorities said when his mother arrived to pick up the boy, he had golf ball-sized blisters on his shoulders and was burned on his face, chest, back and stomach.

Regular readers of this blog know I'm a Malignant Melanoma survivor, the worst form of skin cancer. I have what is known as Dysplastic Nevi syndrome. Large amounts of moles that cover my body. That's the probable cause of my battle with skin cancer, though I recall one very severe sunburn when vacationing in Florida with my parents. If what happened in 1970 or 1971 happened today, would my mother and father had been charged with child abuse and me and my four siblings taken into state custody?

The Lexington Herald-Leader has a picture of the sunburn, and its pretty grusome. Which makes me wonder if the boy was in the sun for much more than 90 minutes. The father was without question dumb but as the President of one Council on Child Abuse said-

"Just having a sunburnt child is not criminal neglect," he said. "It's stupid, but it's not criminal."
I agree. The boy will get better, and it can be years if ever before we'll know if the sunburn did permanent harm. On the other hand a two-year-old may see his father go to jail because of misguided law enforcement and prosecutors. Now that seems as much like child abuse to me as the bad sunburn was.


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Comments (17)

Putting someone in jail SOL... (Below threshold)

Putting someone in jail SOLEY because they let their infant get a sunburn is scary. #1: we'll have to build more jails to accommodate all the miscreants, #2: parents of severely sunburned kids will be less likely to take their kids for medical care (unless there' s divorce/child custody situation AS THERE WAS IN THIS CASE, and #3: I expect poison ivy and multiple insect bites will be next.

Now this case suggests that the father was stupid, isn't appropriate to care for the child without supervision, and probably had other concerns raised about him previously, this being the last straw. But who knows, maybe the mom is the Sheriff's daughter. I just can't believe he's in JAIL for this. In KY of all places. Now if he's neglected his dogs, that'd be understandable (I've seen accused murderers released on their own recognizance on the same blotter where a miscreant who shot his neighbor's dog was jailed without bail in the same geographic area).

While it is obvious that th... (Below threshold)
Codekeyguy Author Profile Page:

While it is obvious that this Dad is not the sharpest knife in the drawer, sunburn does take some time to creep up on you. By the time it starts looking bad, it is way too far gone. I had a bad sunburn as a kid (I was 12, and out on my boat all day) with silver dollar blisters, etc. Wasn't fun, but I survived. Not letting the Dad off the hook, Just sayin'.

A 2-year-old is not an infa... (Below threshold)

A 2-year-old is not an infant.

Falze: By the law, anyone w... (Below threshold)

Falze: By the law, anyone who hasn't reached their majority can be called an infant, I believe. What's the point of playing dictionary here? A two year old is no more able to make safe decisions about themselves than whatever you consider an infant - they need constant attention for safety. In a way, due to their mobility, they need more attention than a rugrat.

Nothing like big brother pr... (Below threshold)
Spurwing Plover:

Nothing like big brother protecting us from cradle to grave now its time for big brother to be gone

I checked the picture. It ... (Below threshold)

I checked the picture. It looks like it turned into one of those water blisters that form. I've had some whoppers in my day. As badly as I burn, and as fair as my skin is, the water blisters like those on the child usually form after a heck of a lot more than 90 minutes in the sun.

I to am a melanoma survivor. I can go back to a specific sunburn I picked up after an entire day in the hot, lethal Minnesota sun. I was about 8 or 9 years old. I had blisters like that - but not until an entire day in the sun.

The type of blisters shown make me wonder if the child doesn't have some sort of skin problem, or reaction to the sun beyond the norm.

Golly, if sunburns were grounds for abuse, my poor parents would be under the jail!

The Pink Flamingo

If the little lad had been ... (Below threshold)

If the little lad had been exposed to a plant called giant hogweed, that could cause very rapid sunburn damage. The sap from this plant does not itself burn the skin, but it does knock out the normal resistance to UV of the skin tissue.

I currently have a really b... (Below threshold)

I currently have a really bad sunburn myself- blistering, peeling- mostly because I was so busy putting sunscreen on my 3 kids (one of whom is 2) that I kind of forgot my back. Duh.

On the one hand, if my 2 year old got that kind of sunburn, I would want my negligent %$$ locked up. You have to be pretty checked out to let that happen to your kid, and it takes a while. Maybe jail is extreme, as this dad is not the custodial caregiver and perhaps is just not as used to caring for a small child. But I think supervised visits and maybe some childcare classes are in order.

On the other hand, I do agree that the nanny state is getting a little out of control- don't know what the answer is, except maybe parenting licenses. :)

Whether it takes 90 minutes... (Below threshold)

Whether it takes 90 minutes or all day to get blisters like that depends on the circumstances. Latitude, time of day, skin type of the child, color of surface area, and probably more that I can't think of right now.

I got the worst blistering most painful sunburn I ever had in less than 60 minutes trying to "tan" when I was 21 years old. I was on a white rocked rooftop in Texas midday midsummer. I didn't even feel hot when I went inside.

That was many (I'm not saying exactly how many) years ago before concerns about skin cancer from sun exposure were well-publicized. There's very little excuse for not protecting children with the information available today (almost forced upon us if we watch TV news).

A case of poor judgment like this shouldn't result in being jailed. At least the first, it shouldn't.

I, too, had severe sunburns... (Below threshold)

I, too, had severe sunburns every summer vacation back in the 1950s. My mother found an over-the-counter ointment called Foille, which instantly removed the redness and eased the discomfort (thus removing the evidence of her criminal child abusing habits). Amazon only sells the ointment, which may be difficult to spread on a sunburned child who does not want to be touched. Search elsewhere for online shops that sell Foille spray -- what a great product! I keep a can of Foille in my First Aid kit and use it on burns of all kinds, including rug burns, as well as other scrapes and abrasions.

As S.J. Reidhead noted, the blisters are likely water blisters. I used to be covered with zillions of small blister-looking bubbles when sweat was trapped under the sunburned skin. No big deal. And what fun it was a few days later to peel off huge sheets of dead skin -- fun in its own right as well as for being utterly disgusting to my sisters.

What are you people on bad ... (Below threshold)

What are you people on bad drugs?????

The guy freaking burned a 2 year old!!!

This isn't an accident like the kid turned on the hot water in the tub and burned his fingers... The dad freaking left him in the sun to fry.

What if the dad left him in a locked car... would you morons think that was just fine???

Yes, we all got sunburns when we where kids but our parents had no freaking clue how bad it was... we know now. (many of us are old enough we didn't have car seats or wear seat belts either, we know better know!)

And the kid is 2!!!

Geeze, I'm arguably the most conservative person to ever write for Wizbang... a whiny liberal I am not....

But you people are just fucked in the head.
notiz=Generic broad brushing is not allowed Paul.

Back 20 yrs ago when my old... (Below threshold)

Back 20 yrs ago when my oldest was 3-4 months, I was with her in my parents swimming pool, she had sunscreen on, but she got a pretty bad burn on one arm, did I abuse her, heck no. I was a young 18 yr old mother, yet my ped dr called me a bad mother. That stayed with me for years.

If the American people don't stand up against the "state", something like the LDS can happen. What if your teenage child goes out and gets pregnant, is that child abuse? You let it happen...your child stole something from Wal-Mart, you let it happen? Was the man criminal in neglect, probably not, was he dumb, probably. Does he deserve to go to jail or lose his child, I don't think so.

Bottom line the state is becoming out of control. CPS itself needs revamped. NO one should be allowed to make annonymous child abuse accusations, keep the name private in the system so parents can't and won't try to take revenge, but hold people accountable for false and malicious allegations.

Yes, I believe it is crimin... (Below threshold)

Yes, I believe it is criminal neglect at least to allow a child to develop that kind of burn. It didn't suddenly happen. That burn took a while to develop. Clearly, the 2-year-old baby wasn't being properly supervised. I hope a blood alcohol test was made of the pathetic excuse for a father and that he never has the opportunity to see his child without intense supervision again. I believe the trauma this child will carry knowing that daddy, the one person who should protect and provide security for the child, can't be trusted to properly care for him will far outweigh any "trauma" the child may experience from learning he can depend on our justice system to punish those who fail in their responsibilities to protect children. So sorry to read all the posts here defending - even admitting to - such abject neglect of children. But, it's not like this child's generation is the first to be neglected and taught that responsibility is merely an option. Quite sad.

Chrissy, et al, the questio... (Below threshold)

Chrissy, et al, the question is not whether he was criminal, but does he belong in JAIL BEFORE trial? If its solely on the basis of the sunburn, it seems a waste of the taxpayers' money. I bet, however, there's more to the story.

Also, one needs to recognize, as mentioned early on by Monty in 7), that there are sensitizers that increase the risk of sunburn: antibiotics, oral contraceptives, and other prescription medications as well as some "natural" herbals can be sensitizers that dramatically reduce the time needed to get a blistering burn.

Lastly, there is a proven increased risk for melanoma in those that have experienced at least one blistering sunburn. HOWEVER there is NO EVIDENCE that the burn itself is the cause of the melanoma, but only a demonstration of the risk to develop melanoma. More importantly, wearing sunscreen DOES NOT decrease the risk of melanoma. It does decrease squamous cell cancer and basal cell cancers, premature skin aging, BUT NOT melanoma risk.

A bit off topic on the burn... (Below threshold)
Richard Merchant:

A bit off topic on the burn. I watched a program years back where researchers took a mans leucocytes and grew them into a large amount of super leucocytes and put them back into the man. The man had melanoma on his face and they were watching to see if the tumor was affected by the treatment. Apparently the guy turned red all over like he was having a rash,but they then realized that it was the super cells attacking every mole and freckle or blemish he had as well as the tumor. It was still being tested at that time,but I have never heard anything more about it. It sounded like it had some success. Was curious if Bill or SJ had heard of it.
As far as the kid blistering,how long does it take for the blisters to rise? If he was out for a while and it didn't look bad, as a lot of sunburns are not as easy to see when you are out in the sun,maybe the father had no idea the blisters that came up would be so bad. I have had those blisters myself all over my back when I was about ten from playing all day on the beach in St.Augustine. It was not till that night or next day I found the blisters. I thought I was finally turning into a fish from constantly being in the water as everyone warned me about.


Richard: Likely yo... (Below threshold)


Likely you are thinking of interleukin-II activated natural killer cells (NK Cells). Google or PubMed away.

Ok im scandinavian--I have ... (Below threshold)
Kari :

Ok im scandinavian--I have gotten burnt every year since i was small. Im very pale. I can get really really bad burns in half an hour. I used half a bottle of SPF 70 one day. I still peeled like the lizard. Those police are just racist.






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