STATE: Increase penalties on child manslaughter

Society cannot prevent the maltreatment of children no matter how hard it tries.

Not even a veritable army of Child Protective Services workers would be enough to be able to prevent the abuse inflicted on some children by the adults in their lives.

Knowing that we cannot prevent adults from shirking their responsibility to care for the children in their care, we agree with Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, D-Schenectady, that those who cause the death of a child should face a tougher penalty.

Last week – only weeks after a Jamestown man allegedly caused the death of an 16-month-old child in his care – Santabarbara introduced A.10066. The bill will increase manslaughter crimes that result in the death of a child from a Class B or Class C felony to a class A-1 felony, ensuring such cases receive the maximum sentence under state sentencing guidelines.

“This bill ensures that those responsible for neglect or abuse leading to the death of a child must face the toughest penalties and full accountability under the law,” Santabarbara wrote in his legislative justification.

Children can be challenging. Parenting or caring for young children is stressful and difficult at times. But there should be no acceptable display of frustration or stress that results in the death of a child. Adults who break the bond of trust with a child placed under their care should face a higher level of criminal charge.

With all that said, we hope there is something missing in our society. Too often new parents or caregivers find themselves in over their heads with little idea or training on how to handle a child properly. Part of prenatal care or post-birth care has to be to help parents protect their children.


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