Cursing Toddler Can Stay With Teen Mom: Judge

By Aditi Mukherji, JD on January 14, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Dubbed the "cursing toddler," a 2-year-old in Nebraska was placed in child protective custody after a video of him swearing went viral last week.

However, an Omaha juvenile court judge ruled Monday that the boy and his 17-year-old mother would be placed with the same foster family.

With custody issues settled, the focus is now shifting to the Omaha police union's use of social media in this case.

Cursing Toddler Video: Child Endangerment?

In the video, the toddler is provoked and cursed at by adults, who exhort him to use expletives. The diapered boy pushes down a chair and responds to some of the comments with a middle-finger salute, reports CNN.

But does such behavior rises to the level of child endangerment?

A parent can lose custody of a child who is severely neglected or abused. This can take many forms, such as neglecting a child's medical needs (including childhood obesity), expressing extreme disinterest in the child, or inflicting extreme emotional damage to the child.

In this case, the teenage mother and her son were removed by the state after the video went viral, but she did not lose custody of her child. Instead, the boy and his young mother were placed into child protective custody.

Contrary to popular belief, the toddler's removal reportedly had little to do with the video and actually resulted from safety concerns. Authorities said adults in the child's household "repeatedly allowed known gang members into their home"; the state even tried to help relocate the family, Omaha's KETV reports.

Still, the video is shining a spotlight on a law enforcement agency's questionable use of social media.

Police Union Under Fire

The Omaha Police Officers Association posted the viral video on its website to reveal what it described as the "cycle of violence and thuggery" in the community. But the police union's viral hit drew criticism from the city's police chief, the ACLU of Nebraska, and several community leaders.

The police union claims it posted the video to highlight unhealthy environments for children, but critics say the union paired the video with racially charged language to "needlessly antagonize minority communities, which make up about a quarter of Omaha's 409,000 residents," reports CNN.

Though legal liability is unlikely, this incident may give pause to the union before pulling another social media stunt in the future. It's a golden social media lesson for parents, too: jocular cussing videos of your children may fall short of child endangerment, but they'll make you the parenting punch line.

Do you think the police #wenttoofar? Tweet us at @FindLawConsumer.

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