When a prank turns into felony child abuse

On Behalf of | Mar 9, 2023 | Schools & Universities, Survivors - Resources & Help

Depending on the context, a prank can become a felony and a form of child abuse. This is something you’ll definitely want to be aware of if you work with children in Florida, which is a mandatory reporting state.

What is the definition of felony child abuse?

Felony child abuse is classified as an incident when a child is exposed to emotional or physical harm. This can come in the form of:

  • Neglect
  • Endangerment
  • Abandonment
  • Sexual abuse

Child abuse becomes a criminal offense if it is shown that the act was done intentionally. This means that if someone working in a day care facility accidentally bumps into a child, it doesn’t count as a deliberate action and thus can’t be considered a criminal offense.

It’s a different story if the day care worker pushed the child over on purpose. But there are many other actions that a person can take besides inflicting physical harm on a child that may turn into felony child abuse.

An ill-conceived prank that backfired

One real-life example occurred when a group of five people working in a day care decided to wear Scream masks and scare the children there. Not only did they wear the masks but they also chased the children and shouted at them. Their antics not only got them fired from their jobs but also led to felony child abuse charges.

One daycare employee also received a charge for failing to report the abuse. The incident took place in Mississippi, where there are mandatory reporting laws. It’s all the more important to know how to report sexual misconduct and child abuse in such states.

The laws about who is a mandatory reporter varies from state to state. In Florida, mandatory reporting rules apply to everybody. In other parts of the country, only people like teachers, medical professionals and social workers are required by law to report when they suspect child abuse has occurred.