Childhood Obesity: Who’s to Blame?

[deleted account] ( 65 moms have responded )

You are what you eat.

But are you also responsible for what your children eat?

A South Carolina woman recently lost custody of her 14 year-old son after being charged with criminal child neglect when the boy’s weight hit 555 pounds. The arrest warrant for mother Jerri Gray alleged that she placed her child in “an unreasonable risk of harm” by allowing his weight to become “serious and threatening to his health.” The boy was put in foster care.

When the same issue arose in Texas, Pennsylvania, New York, New Mexico and Indiana, state courts ruling in the cases of morbidly obese children declared they were in fact victims of neglect.

“It’s unfair to blame solely the parents when there’s a myriad of other factors influencing a child’s weight,” argues the director of a university weight-management center, pointing to genetic predisposition, socioeconomic status, and environmental factors including access to parks and playgrounds.

A child welfare expert responds, “I think I would draw the line at a place where there are serious health consequences for the child and efforts to work with the family have repeatedly failed.”

The attorney for the South Carolina mother says convicting her on criminal charges for her son’s obesity will open a Pandora’s Box of issues way beyond the immediate issue.

“What about the parents of every 16 year-old in Beverly Hills that’s too thin? Are they going to start arresting parents because their child is too thin?” the attorney asked. “If your 14 year-old goes down the street and gets pregnant or breaks the neighbor’s window or steals the neighbor’s car, can the parents now be held criminally liable for that child’s acts as well?”

Tell us what you think: Should parents be criminally responsible for their obese children? How far should the law go in holding parents directly responsible for any of their children’s behaviors?

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Caitlin - posted on 10/11/2010

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Sorry, I may have been mixing this up with something else I heard in the news, it's true, there was no mention of blaming the food industry.

I don't believe that intent is 100% though. A guy that drives drunk and kills someone didn't actually mean to do it, his intent was most likely just to get from point A to point B, but it still cost someone their life! (and I think she screwed up her kid enough to have basically cost him his life, or at least quality of life). That stuff should be taken into account in sentencing, like oh, well she didn't mean to do it, she didn't know any better so we'll be lenient and give her community service and therapy- that stuff is okay, but it's NO excuse not to charge her at all, just because it will "open the door". That door NEEDS to be open, parents need to be somewhat accountable in some situations!

Laura - posted on 10/21/2010

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Life would be so much simpler if cause and effect issues actually had just ONE cause with ONE effect. But life isn't that simple. The quote from the university weight-management center director hit the nail squarely on the head! In the case of obesity/morbid obesity, there are MULTIPLE factors and the parent is only one of them. You can remove the mother from the equation but other factors in this case will also be looked into and modified in an attempt to lower this child's weight. Yes, the parent has responsibility for the feeding and care of a child and has the resposibility to control what they can when it comes to food purchases. However, if no local store carries bananas, for example, then expecting the parent to feed their child bananas becomes unrealistic.

The one factor that cannot be easily remedied is genetic predisposition; thyroid issues CAN cause weight gain as can other medical conditions, and need to be tested for in order to properly address. Medications for asthma, ADHD, depression and other health problems can cause weight gain (I gained 25 pounds in about a month from asthma meds with no change in a vegetarian, low fat diet). QUALITY of food is an issue! Lower socio-economic status often means eating low quality food (lots of HFCS, chemical additives & preservatives) and having little to no access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Numerous studies have shown this link with more coming out showing how these same things may be linked to earlier puberty. Early on-set puberty can cause weight gain in boys and early menstration and development in girls. Quality of food matters! And of course physical activity (or rather the lack of) plays a part in obesity.

All of these things contribute to the problem of obesity and the parent can only control some of them. So if this child is poor (limited financial resources which directly limits quality food choice) has a genetic predisposition to obesity, is on a med for asthma or ADHD, has no safe place to be active or play a sport...what is a parent then supposed to do? Especially if financial resources are limited? Granted, 555 pounds is extreme obesity! And certainly this case needs to be looked into and addressed! I simply wish to caution some of the severe judgments against this mother by trying to point out the actual complexity of this situation. None of the other factors I mentioned were given any consideration in the article and those factors might be contributors, too, besides the behavior of the mom. Poverty comes to mind, for me, as a big part of this equation. I see criminal charges as being an extreme reaction to a complex issue.

Dana - posted on 10/13/2010

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Yes the parents are to blame. They are the ones supplying the food and teaching bad habits. It is not the same as a child breaking a window or stealing a car, unless the parent is supplying the rock to break the window or bringing the child to the location of a car to steal it. Nor is it the same as a child being too thin, unless they're not providing any food.
I see nothing wrong with removing a 555 pound child from it's obviously neglectful parent.

[deleted account]

"The mother must have realised at a certain point that is wasn't normal, but she obviously didn't care enough to find out why what she was doing was wrong, or how to fix it; hence - abuse." - Caitlin

I disagree. I feel these parents have a mental illness. They can't see how bad the situation truly is. Its like anorexics who look in the mirror and still see a fat chick. The lady from my example above still looked at her 18 year old ( give or take a year) and saw a chubby little baby. The child should definitely be taken away but putting that mother in jail? What is that going to achieve? It wouldn't help her. It wouldn't stop her from doing it again when she got out. AND it would cost the tax payers hundreds of thousands of dollars. She needs psychiatric help.

I think better nutrition education is required for parents of moderately obese children but for these extreme cases, there is something else going on. I mean, on our spanking vs non spanking debate I've never seen anyone say "Well, when little Jimmy goes to touch the stove top, I just shove a hamburger in his mouth! That stops him and it works well for my family....".

Barb - posted on 10/11/2010

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Loureen, (lovely name by the way) i'm not sure who your question is directed at but i'm going to give you my answer.

In the 50's and 60's they did not know the health risks of smoking cigarettes. Therefore many people smoked and became addicted, also addicting their children under the second hand smoke. Now along came the 80's and 90's where the health risks became known but people continued to smoke and die and pass on the bad habit to their children. And quite frankly still do. I know respiratory therapists that go outside the hospital for a smoke break. People who see the results of smoking every day.

So if a parent smoked and then the child decided to start smoking would that become criminal neglect also knowing it causes cancer, increases your risk of stroke, heart disease, liver disease, etc and generally leads to a poorer quality of life?

When education fails is it criminal neglect?

That is a good question. Ignorance of the law is no excuse as well. I think the child should have been removed for his own safety, however i see the legal fines and fees of incarcerating the parents could have been better spent. Like anger management classes and counseling for abusive parents.

Do you believe they were trying to kill their child with food?

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Barb - posted on 10/31/2010

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I was curious about this case and did a little googling on it. I'm wondering if any of these points change anybody's mind.



(Mother's name is Jerri Gray and son's name is Draper)



1. According to Lt. Shea Smith, Draper has been given opportunities to participate in treatment programs, but has not been allowed to by his mother



2. Gray and Draper were scheduled to appear in family court on May 20, 2009, but did not appear



3. His teachers have expressed concern for his welfare



4. Department of Social Services determined that he was not receiving the medical care he needed while in the custody of his mother.



I think it's important to make the distinction that the mother didn't go to jail because the boy was morbidly obese. She went to jail for non compliance.

She had several months and help from Social services to comply, they even put the child on medicaid so that she would not be financially responsible and she REFUSED to take the boy for appointed medical visits, nutrition programs, and exercise classes. I think if she would have done ONE of these things even halfheartedly she wouldn't be where she is today.



It seems to me they tossed her in jail to give her a wake up call that they meant business and no more excuses.

I know i said in previous posts that i didn't think the mother should have had to go to jail. After reading more about this case, i have changed my mind.

Jennifer - posted on 10/30/2010

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I believe the parent's are part reswpponsible for for their children's weight, whether obese or anorexic. Parents are responsible for the way their children behave, for everything their children do. But, however, I also beleive society, their school, teacher's, and even classmates as well. Take obesity, for instance. In the US and other countries as well, obesity is a greater risk in adults and children than it ever has been. For a lot of parent's these days, it is a lot easier to pull thru Mcdonald's, Sonic, or Burger King after a game, practice, twirling, soccer, or whatever activities your child may be in, instead of going home and cooking a 3-course meal, plus homework, the kid's baths, cleaning up the kitche, etc. (very time-consuming). It seems there isn't enough time in the day for all of that! A parent can't exactly control what is on the school menu for that day either. But the chiold cna choose o eat healthier. All children learn by example. If you want your child to eat healthier, start exercising, or whatever, the parent has to be willing to lead them there!!!! I have realized this and am trying to change the way I do things so that I will tech my chioldren to live better and a lot healthier so they can have a more prominent future and hopefully a better life for them and their future family. Eventually, a parent must take some of the resposibility of theie children's choices in life. I did!!! ♥

Kelina - posted on 10/21/2010

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Laura, I agree with you there are a lot of different factors in weight gain. Here's my issue though, you noticed when you gained 25 lbs when you switched meds. She had to have noticed that her child was gaining weight. Could she not have taken him to a doctor and said i don't know why he's gaining so much? If I had a 14 yr old who was approaching 250 lbs i'd be looking in to why provided he wasn't a monster who was 6 ft by that time. There are all sorts of factors but what it comes down to is why did she not seek help before it got that bad?That's where neglect comes in for me. There's no way she could not have noticed.

Ava - posted on 10/20/2010

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Being 555 pounds is not normal for a human being. The fact is, regardless of whether there are 'other factors to weight', no such outside factors cause such exponential weight gain. It is mostly the fault of overeating, whose biggest influence is how a child eats at home. If it was the school's fault then almost all the children would be 555 pounds, but I'm sure they aren't morbidly obese. There's no excuse for child obesity except laziness of the child enforced by carelessness and laziness of the parents, and their tendency to encourage overeating. Period. It's child abuse and neglect and YES, if my daughter weighed 555 pounds, I'd certainly HOPE somebody took her away from me that could keep her healthy and *alive*.

Kristin - posted on 10/20/2010

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Parents. We lead/teach by example and, until the kid has a job, buy the food.

Jane - posted on 10/18/2010

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I believe it's the parents sole responsibility. I hate when people blame the fastfood restarants, commercials for unhealthy foods, etc. As a parent, you say NO and that's it. End of story. I have a 20 and 17 year old that both eat healthy, are within normal weight range, excercise regularly and I'm overweight. I did not want to pass on my weight issues to my children and I didn't. Simple as that.

Kelina - posted on 10/18/2010

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Unless there's some underlying medical issue, you don't get to 555 lbs overnight. It takes time, this type of eating must have started years ago, at which point I think the parents would be liable. We're not with our kids 24/7 but they are at home for meals which we cook. Sure they might occasionally go to friends houses, or out for dinner but how would they manage to put on that kind of weight without notice? If the choices at home had been healthy, he shouldn't have gained weight like that.

Christina - posted on 10/18/2010

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I DEFINITELY believe it's abuse to allow a child to get that big. However...we as parents are not with our children 24/7 and can't monitor them constantly to make sure that they are eating properly. Once they reach a certain age if the parents have taught the child the proper way/things to eat, then the onus is then upon the child themselves. Parents are only responsible to a point. At 14 the parent's should not be liable.

That being said, there is no way for anyone but the parents and child to know whether or not that child has been taught the proper way/things to eat, either.

So where does one draw the line?

Sherri - posted on 10/16/2010

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My Harsh message was directed at Dana S. about a page back.

Mary to answer your question though no my son is an honor roll student and hangs with an amazing group of friends that are pretty inseparable there is about 8 of them. They have been really close group of friends for the past 3 or so years.

Jodi - posted on 10/16/2010

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I don't think anyone was being mean or anything Mary. You just had 3 posts in a row, and Sherri hadn't posted in this thread for a bit, so I must admit, it was a bit strange, LOL.

Who knows who she was referring to as harsh.

Mary - posted on 10/16/2010

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LOL - okay guys - be nice - I thought Sherri's "this is harsh" message was meant for me !!LOL
I was just trying to 'xplain!

Mary - posted on 10/16/2010

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nope, I think sherri responded to one of my posts and I responded... remember, I am new here - so be kind ;)

[deleted account]

Am I missing something? Mary you appear to be having a conversation with yourself? Am I going mad?

Mary - posted on 10/16/2010

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Sherry - I also believe that there is a big difference between being a little chubby and obese. I just read your post about your 14 year old ... but it sounds completely different than what I am so angry about. I am going to step out on a limb here and ask you if you have ever talked about "depression" ??????? maybe? no? with your pediatrician? Does he struggle at school ? Or struggle with friends? Because sometimes, try as we may some of the stuff is really out of our control and we can ONLY do so much. Usually there is a reason why a child EATS. Whether it's by conditioning by their parents, boredom, food as a pacifier... look - I am no skinny minnie but that didn't happen until I got much older... I love food but I also eat when I am bored.... when I know I just cooked something I absolutely love.... kwim....

Mary - posted on 10/16/2010

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I am sorry Sherri - but I have sat back and watched one of my nephews who is almost a year old barely hold his head up because he is swaddled. At his age he should be very active and he is confined to his stroller or swaddled. His mother is morbidly obese and I can see the clocks -a -tickin... it breaks my heart!

Mary - posted on 10/16/2010

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Being active also plays a a part in all of it as well. Stimulate the brain AND the body and you will have a much happier child. You can swaddle your baby or expect them to stay put when they are nearly a year old because you are too lazy to get your bum of the couch ... and you can't shovel food in their mouth hoping it will pacify them while you do something else or do nothing at all. I still think it's criminal to have an obese child. I seriously believe parents should be accountable and even have their children taken away at some point if the parents don't try to improve the conditions of these children.

Caitlin - posted on 10/14/2010

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Goood nutritious food IS the real love, because if you love your kid, you'll want them to be happy and healthy, and a handful of strawberries is always eaten first on my daughters plate, even if it comes with a slice of chocolate cake! Not saying the occasional treat is horrible, but moderation is key.

Mary - posted on 10/14/2010

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In very rare instances there may be some type of medical problem ....but I think it's absolutely criminal for a child to be obese. My blood boils when I see these beautiful children unable to move because parents keep shoveling food in to their child's mouth (or children). When you witness a seven year old huffing and puffing walking up four or five stairs .... and they seem perplexed as to how the child got that way. I love too, how my sil tried to convince everyone she had a thyroid problem when she was nearly 150 lbs overweight but would throw her Jenny Craig meal in the trash - and opt for the cheesecake with chocolate when she thought nobody was looking.

Kelina - posted on 10/13/2010

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I think there's a difference between a child who's too thin and a child whos morbidly obese. You can't force a child to eat, but you can see that that child gets the appropriate help for and obvious eating disorder. However the same is not true for a child eating too much and obviously not of the right foods. They're not talking about kids who are simply overweight, they're talking about kids with whom something has obviously gone wrong. 555 lbs at 14? His mom is obviously the one supplying the food or the pocket money for him to buy himself junk. We can't control what they buy with their own money but we can control how much money we give them. We can also control what food is in the house. There's a reason I don't buy junk food-If I did I would weigh 300 lbs! We can't force our kids to participate in sports or go outdoors but we can encourage them in those activities. I think that jail time is a little extreme. Other posters are right that money could be better spent however I do think that it's getting an important message across to the parents of other children with those supported habits. A parent can only be responsible for the choices their kids make to a certain extent but when they begin enabling their children by supplying the food or drugs or smokes and helping them continue the habit THAT'S when it becomes an issue of neglect.

Manon Alexe - posted on 10/13/2010

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If the above mother is the one doing the shopping (which I suspect she is) than yes she should be held responsible. You as a parent at least get to decide what foods your child gets into their body at home, what they do outside the house you can't always control. So as a responsible parent you would make sure that the food at home is healthy stuff. When you see your child getting bigger and bigger you should start asking questions and try to solve the problem at hand. She obviously didn't do that, how else does your kid get to 555 pounds at 14? Jail time, I must admit, probably not the best solution. Education, therapy and community service, yes that would be a good start.

[deleted account]

I feel that the parents are to blame in some instances but not all, society, the media and advertising companies have some blame to take, as do the children themselves (in some instances not all). Education is the key to reducing childhood and adult obesity, educate people on the correct portion sizes and how to make substitutes without substituting the flavour and most importantly everything in moderation. I agree with Anika though in extreme cases, there is something other than just lack of education, these people are ill.

[deleted account]

@Amber - I totally agree in normal circumstances. I hate it when people blame McDonalds coz they're fat, or cigarette companies coz they smoke. People do need to take responsibility for themselves and their kids. I just think in extreme cases like this, where there's obviously more going on, that that has to be taken into consideration. I'm not saying excuse the behaviour, just approach the situation in a different way.

You get parents who feed their kids junk because they know no better.
You get parents who feed their kids junk because they're lazy and junk is convenient.
You get kids who buy junk themselves because the parents aren't paying attention.
And on rare occasions you get sick parents who are delusional and mentally imbalanced.

Each of those different scenarios require a different level of support. Some need education. Some need a kick up the arse. Some need psychiatric help.

Charlie - posted on 10/12/2010

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If all else fails put a lock on the cupboards and fridge , seriously !

Stifler's - posted on 10/12/2010

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But if the parents aren't going to do their job DOCS has to step in and say HMMM what's going on here, why is nothing being done about this. If the parents were yelling and beating their kid people would step in, how is letting him get to heart attack territory any different.

Amber - posted on 10/12/2010

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@ Anika~ I would agree with you that others need to be held responsible too. But my point was that the parents are primarily responsible because that is their job. It is the job of others in certain circumstances to step in and look after the interest of children, but it is a parents job to look after their interest under every circumstance and in every situation.
I do hope that this brings awareness to government agencies and to schools that they really need to be paying attention when parents have not done their part.

[deleted account]

@Sherri, do you think he might have an hormonal imbalance? It may not require any medication but the eating patterns might need to be changed... the protein to vegetables ratio modified, etc.

Maybe Dr. Abravanel's book can give you an overview of what I mean. I am in no way suggesting he goes on a diet without medical follow up but it may be something that is contributing to his weight issue. Do you think that trying to control the portions is making his eating habits worse? Could he be using food as a tool to deal with stress or boredom?

is there any rock climbing, hiking or other solo sports he would enjoy and could do without breaking the bank? kick-boxing or anything else that doesn't require a team participation?

he is old enough to make some of the decisions by himself... And the fact that you don't buy junk is already a great help to him. The rest he has to choose.

You can lead a horse to water but can't force him to drink. Good luck!

Sherri - posted on 10/12/2010

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This I do believe is trickey not as very young kids that is solely on the parents. However, I do not buy any junk. We don't have any in our home. Occasionally I bake but that is the only stuff they get. However, my oldest is over weight, he is 13. I have tried everything to get him to lose weight hence no junk in our home. What I found is it isn't what he is eating because it is all good food, it is is portion sizes. I have limited them but do you know how many times I find him sneaking food from the kitchen. A lot of the time, if I catch him I make him put it back but I can not control it 24/7. I also find that he vs. my other kids is inactive. However, I don't know how to make him want to be more active. He will not join any organized sports. I make him go outside to play he saunters about. He won't play basketball with the other kids, or join in on the wiffle ball games. He will stand and watch. He will ride his bike on occasion. He does love to swim so we try and get him to do that as much as possible in the summer but we are in New England so that is a whooping 3mo's out of the year. He likes to ski but that is about 45mins away 1 way and so bloody expensive.



I have spoken to the pediatrician but really they say he is overweight and talk to him about it and then he goes home. I am on him as much as possible but I am at the point he is almost 14 and going to be starting high school next year. I am putting the ball in his court. I am no longer going to continue to keep after him. He needs to start making the right choices for himself, especially since I am sure he will be away from me more and more. I will control the food that enters the house but he is going to have to do it away from here and controlling how much he puts into his body.

Alison - posted on 10/12/2010

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This is a very slippery slope. Of course the parents need to accept some responsibility here. Once your child reaches 200, you might want to get some help! But where do you draw the line? There are so many forms of neglect, which ones are criminal and which are not? How about the 14 year olds that are performing sex for money or doing hard drugs?

I can only assume that there were several steps taken before pressing charges.

Emma - posted on 10/12/2010

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Bellow a cretin age it falls solely on the parents shoulders,
We buy the food in our houses we feed it to our kids, we teach them how to eat from birth.

[deleted account]

I think the parents are to blame. I don't care how much crap is on the market and how many processed foods are available at the grocery store. There is NO WAY, any responsible parent would let a child suffer until they become morbidly obese. It is neglect IMO. There are far too many resources and information out there to justify letting a 14 year old get to over 500 pounds... You can't blame the kid for it since he's just that, a kid!

I think the only line to be drawn is if there has been genuine actions taken on the parents part to resolve the problem... I would assume those cases to be rare if the child has gotten to that size.

Caitlin - posted on 10/11/2010

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there we get into the failings of the social system though. It's overworked and underfunded, which is sad because it effects the care on the most vulnerable in our society. They should have stepped in before.. WAY before the kid was 555 pounds, but i'm sure the cases of physical abuse (beatings and incest and such) were much higher up on the list of priorities, and also investigating false claims of abuse that come in every day, sadly this kid probably got put on the back burner for too long because "at least he was gettign fed" or something of the like...

[deleted account]

I totally agree that the parents are accountable and we (parents) are the ones responsible for not only what our children eat but the nutritional education they receive. But 555lb teenagers are extreme cases and I don't think it's as cut and dry as "Oh, what a bad abusive parent". I think we need to realise that when cases like this occur, there should be a little accountability from society. We need to be aware and catching these cases before they get out of control. This kid didn't balloon from a healthy 150lb to 555lb overnight. It was a gradual process. Why didn't someone step in when the child reached 300lb? or 400lb?

Amber - posted on 10/11/2010

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Parents really need to be accountable for the things that they are putting in their childrens mouths. There are healthy alternatives to fatty foods that children do like to eat. It is your responsibility as a parent to teach your children healthy eating from a young age, that way they can make good decisions as they get older.
And sure, they can buy food when you aren't with them as they get a little older...but as a parent you are supplying the money. How about you send them with a snack instead of giving them the money if they refuse to make proper decisions? Very rarely are parents in a position where they have no influence at all on their childrens actions and choices.
It's called parenting for a reason. You have to make the hard decisions for your child until they have really learned their lessons and understand the consequences.
Do I think this woman should be in jail? No. But, as Caitlin said, she should still be charged and she should get therapy or community service. Parents need to understand that they are responsible for another persons life, and obviously a lot of parents still don't get it.

Stifler's - posted on 10/11/2010

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parents should definitely have some form of responsibility for what their children eat. promoting vigilant parenting won't go astray.

[deleted account]

I didn't read her blaming everyone but herself. In fact, I don't think there was any mention of excuses from the mother in the OP. And in the case of the mother that I mentioned, she too didn't blame anyone.

I agree, putting things in little labeled boxes is not right. These situations are never black or white hence why I am reluctant to call it abuse. Abuse suggests cruelty and in these cases, I don't think the intent was cruelty or malice or neglect even if the effect was negative and harmful.

Caitlin - posted on 10/11/2010

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Yet again, I never said I agree with jail time, i'm just saying that putting things into little labeled boxes may not always be right. About this woman? There may be something wrong, or she may be a horrible mom too, who knows.. But the whole point is she's blaming it on everyone but herself, it's the food industry etc... And criminal charges don't always mean jail time (at least here..) there are times where a person is found guilty (and she should be found guilty) and sentenced to therapy or community service (in her case, hopefully helping at a community kitchen or something like that where they prepare healthy foods). Jail time would be innapropriate..

[deleted account]

"Everything is considered these days to be some sort of mental illnes - it goes in with the trend of it always being someone elses fault" - Caitlin

I agree to an extent. Lots of people are not taking responsibility for their actions. BUT, when you get EXTREME cases like this one, there is something out of the norm going on. I'm not saying it should continue, I definitely think the child should be removed from the situation, I just don't think jail time is the answer or the deterrent.

"You dont leave a child with a schizophrenic mother if she forgets to take her meds then thinks everyone is out to get her and wont leave to the house to by groceries to feed herself or her kid, that is still abuse." - Caitlin

No, you're not going to leave a child with an unmedicated schizophrenic, but you're also not going to say 1) She's just using her schizophrenia as an excuse or 2) she should go to jail. Her child should be taken away and she should be given further psychiatric help.

What about PND? A lot of mothers on here have said they suffered or still do suffer from PND. Do you think PND sufferers should be punished with jail time if they harm their child whilst in the throws of the depression? I don't. Psychiatric help, most definitely, but jail time? I don't think so. Though that may be another debate....

Caitlin - posted on 10/11/2010

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Everything is considered these days to be some sort of mental illnes - it goes in with the trend of it always being someone elses fault. "It's not my fault, I have an ILLNESS" I totally disagree, and I never said putting her in jail would help, but it is still abuse. You dont leave a child with a schizophrenic mother if she forgets to take her meds then thinks everyone is out to get her and wont leave to the house to by groceries to feed herself or her kid, that is still abuse. The intention isn't important!

Lyndsay - posted on 10/11/2010

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As children, parents are responsible for what their kids eat and when. A 5 year old (hopefully) does not get to dictate what to have to dinner, whether to even eat dinner, or what goes in the grocery cart at the supermarket. These decisions are all made by parents, and they influence the choices their children will make later in life. Sure, as teenagers, parents have less control... BUT, they are still the ones purchasing food for the house (what the kid eats outside, not their problem), and they are still responsible for ensuring that you are eating healthy meals at home.

I think its silly to compare obesity to delinquency. Your child may start running with the wrong crowd and break a neighbour's window because of peer pressure or to be cool orwhatever, but I very highly doubt that your kid is going to meet a group of fat friends and decide, "Hey, I want to be just like them!" and start intentionally gaining weight.

Caitlin - posted on 10/11/2010

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I have a problem with the idea that the parents think food=love. I undertand that to an extent, I mean, what mom doens't like watching their kid devour a cupcake or treat, but when your 14 year old weighs 200 pounds? what about 300? 400? The mother must have realised at a certain point that is wasn't normal, but she obviously didn't care enough to find out why what she was doing was wrong, or how to fix it; hence - abuse.

Sherri - posted on 10/11/2010

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Yes I control what my children eat at home but I have no control once they leave my home. If they take all there money and buy a 100 candy bars and I am not with them am I still to blame? I think the parents are at fault to a point but do I think you can charge them criminally NO. They definitely need to be taught better and lead by example. I have also seen children who have overeating issues that doesn't have anything to do with the parents. They have to lock there fridges and cabinets and the children simply break them off and eat every single thing they can. It is similar to anorexia or bulimia but the other spectrum. Also for parents that are to blame and over feed there children they aren't doing it to be cruel or through malice but they think that food = love.

I think counselling and education are better options!!

Charlie - posted on 10/11/2010

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I wrote out a long post it was eaten !!

Smoking - If a child grows up to smoke then no not neglect , if a parent smokes in close proximity to a child frequently YES ignorant and neglectful this is why it is illegal in Aus to smoke in a car with a child .

When education fails is it criminal neglect?

Good question , if someone has full knowledge of what the risks are and makes the choice for themselves no its not criminal neglect , if they are responsible for the life of a child and armed with that knowledge still proceeds to endager their life out of sheer ignorance then yes i think it should be criminal .
Do you believe they were trying to kill their child with food?
No i do not however i also do not think many parents mean to kill their kids with excessive spanking or drive their kids to suicide with excessive mental abuse ,

I dont know if that made much sense the second time posting LOL its late here .

And thank you it was my great Aunts name :D

If someone fails to use their education the first time around do you think it will really work a second time around ?

Barb - posted on 10/11/2010

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Jodi, i was meaning the parents were lacking in education on what to feed the child. And if i was a betting woman, the parents probably also equated love with food so therefore a parenting class would help that disorder.

What are they going to learn in prison? What is prison going to do to help the situation?

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