In Texas, if children are trapped inside cars, especially during seriously hot weather, it can result in heat exhaustion or heat stroke, leading to permanent disability or death in a matter of minutes. Heat stroke, also known as hyperthermia, can cause shock, seizures, irregular heartbeat, heart attack and damage to the brain, liver, and kidneys.
Leaving a child in a vehicle is punishable under the Texas Penal Code, Title 5, Chapter 22, Section 10:
Sec. 22.10. LEAVING A CHILD IN A VEHICLE. (a) A person commits an offense if he intentionally or knowingly leaves a child in a motor vehicle for longer than five minutes, knowing that the child is:
(1) younger than seven years of age; and
(2) not attended by an individual in the vehicle who is 14 years of age or older.
(b) An offense under this section is a Class C misdemeanor.
Leaving a child unattended in a car is also a form of neglectful supervision.
What is neglectful supervision?
Answer: Adults who are attentive and aware of children’s behaviors are in the best position to safeguard their well-being. When children are not adequately supervised, it may be considered “neglectful supervision,” which means: Placing a child in or failing to remove a child from a situation that a reasonable person would realize requires judgment or actions beyond the child’s level of maturity, physical condition or mental abilities and that results in bodily injury or substantial risk of immediate harm to the child.
Neglectful supervision is also defined as: Placing a child in or failing to remove the child from a situation in which the child would be exposed to a substantial risk of sexual conduct harmful to the child.
Out of 50,529 confirmed child abuse/neglect victims in Texas for 2004, 28,370 were due to neglectful supervision. If you suspect a child has been abused or neglected, or if you have any questions about whether the concern you have constitutes abuse or neglect, please call the DFPS Abuse/Neglect Hotline at 1-800-252-5400.