As you probably already heard, a New Jersey woman was arrested a couple of weeks ago for allegedly bringing her daughter to a salon and allowing the 5-year-old to spend some time in a tanning booth. The woman now faces child endangerment charges because it is illegal for anyone under the age of 14 to go tanning at a salon, even with a parent's consent. Since the woman's arrest, she has temporarily lost custody of her daughter. The girl, who is now 6, has been placed in the custody of her father while police continue to investigate the incident.
Many of our discussions addressing child custody issues on our Somerville family law blog have focused on what parents can expect during child custody and visitation disputes and negotiations after a couple separates or divorces. But parents are also at risk of losing custody of their children if others suspect that a parent is endangering a child's life or is incapable of providing and caring for a child.
It is certainly important to remove a child from an unsafe home before anything bad can happen to the child, but it is also important that reports of alleged abuse or endangerment are thoroughly investigated in order to prevent an innocent parent from losing custody of his or her child.
The New Jersey mom was arrested after her daughter went to school with burns on her skin that school officials believed were caused by spending time in a tanning booth. The 44-year-old mother, who admits that she personally likes to tan, said that her daughter's burns were from sitting in the sun too long. She told reporters that she would never let her young child go tanning.
It will be interesting to see whether school officials jumped to conclusions too quickly after seeing the child's burns or whether the mother will be at risk of losing parental rights if investigators do discover that the child was taken to the salon to go tanning.
Source: The Star-Ledger, "N.J. tanning mom makes court appearance in Newark to answer child endangerment charges," May 6, 2012