Legality of Installing a Sliding Bar Lock Outside of a Child's Room in Ar.

Updated on June 28, 2010
N.F. asks from Hot Springs National Park, AR
14 answers

Is it illegal in Hot Springs, Ar. to place a lock on the outside of a child's room? Wife and mother in law did this.

My wife and mother in law claim that my son is full of energy and unruly. He is really quite calm for a four year old. There are other issues that I am going to be calling child services about, I just wanted to know if this was one to add to the list. The lock is a sliding bar type. It is on the outside of the door, in order to lock him in. I have no idea how often they do this. I work in the Gulf of Mexico, and am gone a lot. Please give me references to legal codes. Devin would have to break out the window in order to get out of the house if it was on fire. Again he is four years old. This is a private single home, not an apartment.

I am now the physical custodian of Devin. He is with me in another state, where I now reside. He is not in danger, I wanted to see what the laws were, do that I could demand they remove the lock, and if they dod not, could call the law.

What can I do next?

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answers from Kansas City on

Sounds like a bad idea to me. What does he do if he has to go to the bathroom, or has a bad dream? Poor little kid needs better access to someone who can comfort him, not to mention if there is a fire. I'd probably call the fire dept. in the town and ask if there is a fire code about it, something like the codes saying schools have to have doors that can be opened in case of a fire

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answers from Austin on

One website says this (specifically in regard to Arizona) however, as mentioned below, there very well may be no specific law in Arkansas that you can site and it maybe up to the courts interpretation. Good luck!

Question: Are parents allowed to lock children in their bedrooms? If so, what is the max amount of time allowed?

Answer: Parents have the right and the duty of care, custody and control of their children. They may do whatever is reasonable to exercise their right and duty. The question is whether their action is reasonable and it depends upon the facts of each specific circumstance.
Parents certainly cannot lock a child in a bedroom and then go out to a party. That would place the child in an unsafe situation and would constitute child neglect.

It would probably be unreasonable to lock a child in a room without bathroom breaks for too long a time, or where there is no fresh air, or where there are dangerous fumes or other threats to the health and safety of the child. They would also have to be certain that the temperature in the room was reasonable, and perhaps that water was available. It would probably be unreasonable to lock a child in a room without light, at least in the daytime.

One would also have to consider how often this occurred, and for what reasons the child was locked in their room. If this is the only way that a parent can get this particular child to sit down and do homework, and it only occurs every school day for one hour, it might very well be acceptable. There is no specific law in Arizona regarding acceptable conditions. The matter would be up to a court to decide whether the parent's actions were reasonable.

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answers from Houston on

I think any crime would be in how they used the lock, not simply the fact that they had one on the door. For example when my children were little (younger than 4) we had a childproof doorknob cover on the inside of the door to prevent them from coming out at night and falling down the stairs or sleepwalking and exiting the house. This was never used as a punishment or to contain them because they were "unruly" just to protect them at night. Obviously this doesn't sound like it was the case with your family but my point is the idea of having the lock on the door might be cause for investigation but I doubt that it is against the law by itself.

Good luck,

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answers from Cleveland on

I would make some calls. At four he should be able to get in and out of a room where he's sleeping. I agree with you, what if the house caught on fire, he got very sick, or hurt and needed to get out and no one heard him? i'm not sure what they claim their reasons would be, but I dont find this appropriate at all. Definately dont let this rest.

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answers from Indianapolis on

I would contact the State Attorney General in AR to verify the laws. I'm going to guess that, at the very least, it's a violation of fire codes, but it's a local/state issue, so you're correct to ask about legality.

It may be worth a call to your attorney as well to verify.

I'm glad that you have custody of him and have him out of what sounds like a very harmful environment to him psychologically.

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answers from Saginaw on

Why would you send him there if you were worried about his safety? If you are willing to press legal charges on your mother for the way she cared for your child then I would not send him there again. I don't think you can make them remove the lock. Just don't send him there anymore.

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answers from Boston on

Wow!! I would call someone!! What if a fire broke out! I would get him removed from that house. Who locks a four year old behind a door with that kind of lock??? Who does stupid stuff like that.
IF I were you I would jump on this and find out what other really strange things are going on. Now when the demand the lock removed is what concerns me also. What are they going to do to your son when he acts up, tie him to a table???
I am glad you have custody of your son. Call the police, call child services and go for full custody until momma gets some parenting classes.



answers from Birmingham on

Anyone that would even THINK about installing that type of lock on a child's door would most likely lie to you about whether they removed it or not. If they wanted the child restrained and couldn't use the lock - what other measures might they consider taking??? I know they are blood relatives but there are some family members that do not deserve to see a child because of their unacceptable behavior. I feel this is one of those situations. I hope you find some legal help that can tell you if he has to see these relatives. I would only allow them to see him in my own home while I was around. This is not normal behavior from a mother and/or grandmother.


answers from Tulsa on

My son is now 5, but when he was 3/4 years old, I actually had more than one doctor tell me that it was okay & recommended to lock him in his room for *short* periods. (We're in OK, btw.) As I said, only for a short while...time out, for example. The idea was to get him to calm himself and to give him the opportunity to reflect on what had happend to improve behavior. I never did it simply because I was unable to bring myself to go through with it. I kept thinking "recommended or not, what if it warps him?" Maybe I would have less discipline probs now if I had...I don't know, but there it is. If there were a fire, would your wife (ex?) & inlaws really save themselves before the "baby"? I know I couldn't, but then I only speak for me.



answers from Fayetteville on

I live in Arkansas and I know parents who have done this to keep their children safe or to keep the other children safe from the older siblings temper and in one instance I know that the Department of Human Service was involved. This is not against the law as long as they are not locked in the room for hours or days without food, water or bathrooms.
Have you asked Devin how often mommy or grandmommy locks him in his room? Does Devin seem fearful or afraid of being locked in a room or of his mother or grandmommy? Is Devin afraid of being alone? Have you talked to your ex and asked her how often she or her mother locks Devin in the room? Before you involve the police, attorneys or child services you need to make sure you have all the facts and have proof that Devin is in danger from your ex or mil.
My son is 3 and acts totally different depending upon who is with us and where we are at. If my son-in-law is with us I don’t have to correct him at all, if my son-in-law is not in the group we usually make at least one trip to the ladies room for a spanking for bad behavior after a couple of talks and if dad is with us life is hell in public. I also know that he tells on each one of us. If I spend too much time on the computer he tells the first person he talks to on the phone or who comes in the door, he tells on everyone and it does not matter what it is or when it happened.
I also don't know of any mother or grandmother who would not die for their child or grandchild if that child was in danger. I know that I would give my own life up trying to save my own child or another child before I would leave them to die in a fire or another dangerous situation. I know you hear about women killing their children in the news or saving themselves and not their child but that is the exception not the norm.



answers from Baton Rouge on

Man call the district attorney there he can answer this question promptly.

Get all you can on these two idiots and make sure you document each and every item.



answers from Sioux Falls on

first off people its his wife and mother IN-LAW. big difference. i would check with CPS,child protective services, also known as DFS(department family services). i personally don't think that the lock should be there. if any thing put on the door handle covers. my 5 1/2 yr old doesn't even know how to work them. if you have custody of the child now i would let it drop. UNLESS the child will be returning to the home with his mom and grandma. best of luck and hope you get this straightened out.



answers from Birmingham on

I guess I would need to know how long they are putting him in there and for what reason. As Mandi said, it could be used as a time out resource if he was not willing to sit in his room with the door closed. I put my 3 1/2yo in his room and shut the door for time outs *occasionally*. However, I would never put a lock on the door and it is only for 3 minutes at a time. It almost sounds like mom is using it to get away from the child because she doesn't know how to handle his behavior. At any rate, she needs some parenting classes (her mother as well) and he needs an outlet for his energy and/or a consult by a children's behavioral specialist.
That you are asking means you have good reason for concern and you care about the wellbeing of your son. If you have custody of him then I would seriously consider keeping him with you at all times and enrolling him in day camp while you are at work or some sort of daycare. That way he can interact with other kids his age, learn how to socialize and receive reasonable discipline from teachers, and have a great outlet for his enery while having fun. Good luck and keep us posted!


answers from Fort Smith on

I live in AR and don't know about it being "against the law" but I would say it is DEFINITELY not the way a parent should handle it. Sounds like instead of Devin being punished for whatever reason, mom may need to take a step back and look and get some professional help. Good Luck!

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