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Child Neglect in Illinois — a Brief Overview

Question:  How does Illinois law determine whether a parent is guilty of child neglect? Answer:  Child neglect is a punishable offense in the state of Illinois.  Under the state’s Parental Responsibility Law, parents are required to provide proper care for children under age 18 by giving them food, clothing, shelter, supervision, and medical care.  If they do not, they can be found by the court to be guilty of neglect or abuse. The state has established a number of situations that are considered “neglect.”  Examples include, but are not limited to: ~ Newborn infants whose blood or urine is found to contain any amount of a controlled substance; ~ Observed or reported physical or sexual abuse, torture or excessive corporal punishment of a child.  (It is important to note that, while parents are free to discipline their children, the courts draw the line at actual abuse.); ~ Permitting a child to do something blatantly dangerous or illegal, like drive a car without a license.     For more information about Illinois law, visit  If you have a legal question, send it to Illinois Law Now is a series of newspaper and internet posts prepared by the Illinois State Bar Association that address legal issues of interest to the public. For additional information about the law, visit