Parental neglect of children: what is at risk?
Nowadays, there are also fathers and mothers who seriously neglect their children: they do not educate them, do not support them, do not provide for their needs and sometimes abandon them completely. In the face of such behaviour, morality is not enough and the law must intervene, especially to protect children left without care. If a parent disregards his or her children, what is at risk?
The Supreme Court found this prolonged omissive behaviour particularly serious, because it simultaneously violated all the obligations of maintenance, education and upbringing that every parent has towards their offspring. These duties are enshrined directly in the Constitution even before the laws, proving, if proof were needed, their importance.
If a parent abandons his children (this conduct may concern either the father or the mother, or both), in cases of prolonged absence, inability to perform their role or obvious disinterest, the judge may order the drastic measure of forfeiture of parental responsibility over the children. The removal of the child from the family residence and its placement in protected places may also be ordered when there is a well-founded danger for its psycho-physical safety. These measures are never final, and can be revoked if the situation that determined them no longer exists.
Some people mistakenly believe that parental responsibility ceases with separation or divorce: this is not the case as the parents’ duties towards their children continue and remain intact, regardless of which of the two parents is identified as the ‘collocator’, i.e. the one who remains to live with the children and young people.
If a father or mother abandons children who have not yet reached the age of 14, there is the offence of child neglect, which carries a penalty of imprisonment from 6 months to 5 years.
The parent who in various ways (by abandonment, or also by neglect and through prolonged emotional detachment) disregards his or her children commits an offence, because it openly violates the obligations stated above; from this derives by law the obligation to compensate the damage, both material and moral, caused to the children, and also to the other parent who, as a result of such behaviour, is in fact left alone and has to care for the children exclusively.