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  1. #1
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    Dad who didn't put enough sunblock on son is charged

    A Cumberland County man was indicted this week for failing to put enough sunblock on his 12-year-old son, who suffered bleeding and blistering burns after a long day at the beach in Wildwood in July.

    Walter McKelvie Jr., 43, of Vineland, was charged with cruelty and neglect of his child, which carries a penalty of up to 18 months in prison. Prosecutors described his son as "mentally delayed."

    Prosecutors brought the unusual charge because the second-degree burns on the torso, shoulders, chest and back were so severe, said Robert Johnson, chief assistant Cape May County prosecutor. "This is an extreme situation," he said. "We would not be prosecuting someone who would let their child get sunburned."

    He said the charge was not meant "as a general statement or warning to the general public" about the importance of sunscreen. He added that authorities would not begin roaming beaches in search of parents who, say, forget to reapply after their children come out of the water.

    "The injuries are very severe," Johnson said. "The bleeding and blistering of these sunburn injuries are the most severe I'd ever seen."

    The boy was sent home from school the day after his beach outing because of the injuries, Johnson said. The next day, he was returned to his mother, with whom he lives. His mother took him to a hospital and contacted authorities, Johnson said.

    He said the boy's impaired mental capacities required the father to take more responsibility for his care than would otherwise be necessary for a 12-year-old.


    http://www.philly.com/mld/inquirer/n...8768720.htm?1c

  2. #2
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    It is sad that this happened. I think prosecution might be over reaching here. Many times the severity of sunburns are not totally apparent until hours afterward. And some people are simply ignorant to the differences in sun exposure at a beach compared to a backyard barbecue. I know I was. I was raised in Ohio, nowhere near an ocean, and my first trip to the ocean was Biloxi when I was 23. I don't burn easily and wasn't there long since the beach was somewhat poluted at that time and not attractive. Nothing happened and I didn't burn.

    Since I'm not a big beach/swimming person I didn't regularly even go to lakes. And when my kids were little we took a trip to the Jersey shore. Stupid me never thought there would be a difference compared to a trip to Lake Erie in Ohio. And I did coat my youngest, who was less than two, with sunscreen. But I never reapplied it because she didn't get into the ocean. But of course she did sweat. When we came home she looked a little red. By that night it was apparent she was REALLY red. Nothing like this boy... but definitely an uncomfortable sunburn that I felt terribly guilty about. I learned a lesson about how easily a fair skinned child can burn... but I wasn't being purposely negligent. This sounds more like a divorced couple's jousting match over custody and visitation than a legitimate indictment to me.

  3. #3
    Sounds like neglect to me, you have to spend some time in the hot sun to get 2nd degree burns and blisters.

    I'm very fair skinned and it took me laying out in the Fla sun for over 4 hours. It was a very very painful experience. A mentally slow child of 12 should have been protected.

  4. #4
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    I agree he should have been protected. It sounds as if his sunburn is about as bad as sunburns get. (Makes me wonder if the boy wasn't taking some form of tetracycline at the time.)

    It is simply a matter of what the intent was here. Even in cases of neglect vs. abuse, there has to be some type of intent. If your children are found hungry and you made the conscious choice not to have any food in your home, then there is intentional neglect. Even if you had no money to buy food, you still had an obligation to go to a community food bank, a shelter, or even to Children's Services. Kids have to eat. It isn't something you can get by without.

    But this father did apply sunscreen to the boy. Perhaps he was unrealistic about how long one application would last or when it should be reapplied. But to find neglect I would have to see evidence that the father simply didn't care if the boy was frying in the sun and didn't want to be bothered with applying the sunscreen... or that the father was aware the sunscreen had to be reapplied after swimming, heavy sweating, etc. and just didn't bother to do it. It could have been just bad judgement. It could have been that the burn wasn't as obvious while the boy was receiving it as it was later. I've had burns that blistered on my shoulders when I don't normally burn. But those blisters didn't show up til much later after I'd been out of the sun for some time.

  5. #5
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    Feb 2005
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    A mentally slow child..... due to what???
    My own autistic child is often very very adverse to the application on lotions to his skin.....
    Yet to keep him inside would result in him banging his head upon every window he could with resulting glass breaking........
    I must wonder how much of this story is divorce isssues coupled with over zealous child services? Or even worse ignorance of those who should know better?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
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    I am confused????
    I recieved an e-mail stating a reply to this thread by Bluecloud...
    One which I was more then willing to answer yet I come here and now there seems to be no reply???
    I hit "refresh" in the browser window????