When The Children of Single Parents End up Dead
Relationship advice columnist and dating expert
In June 2011, a 20 year old single mother living in Chicago beat and suffocated her 3-month-old son because he wouldnâ€™t stop crying. The next morning she strapped him into a Baby Bjorn and went shopping with the dead infant as if nothing were wrong.
A 21 year old New York mom smacked her 5 year old son so hard in his stomach and back that he died 5 days later of internal injuries. She was furious because he broke the television while playing Nintendo WII.
In Jacksonville, Florida a 22 year old mom was arrested for shaking her three month old son to death. She is reported to have told police that she shook the baby, smoked a cigarette â€œto compose herselfâ€, and then shook him again. She was upset because his crying interrupted her playing an online video game.
A Knotts Island, North Carolina 16 year old teenager went to a hospital emergency room to report that she had given birth to a baby and the baby died. Police came to her home and turned it over to the medical examiner for autopsy. Findings: the newborn died of multiple stab wounds inflicted by its teenaged mother.
A 31 year old Ohio woman was recently convicted of killing her 28 day old baby girl. She placed her daughter in a microwave oven and turned it on, reportedly distraught after a fight with her boyfriend over whether or not he was the babyâ€™s biological father.
Finally, just last week a 25-year old St. Louis mother of three was charged with two counts of first-degree murder. She is accused of killing her 5-year old son and 4-year old daughter with a shotgun by shooting them in the head. Her oldest child, an 8-year old boy, was able to escape the carnage. Her relatives are defending her by claiming she is bi-polar and on anti-depressant medication. Isnâ€™t it interesting though that not one of them thought it might be important to protect the children by removing them from the care of their mentally ill mother?
Young fathers are not immune to the pressure of parenting themselves.
A 22 year old New Orleans father confessed murdering his toddler son to avoid paying $4,000 in back child support. After his story that the child was abducted was disproven, he admitted to stuffing the child’s body in a bag and dumping it in a playground.
A young father who by all accounts was nothing but â€œa normal guyâ€ living with his girlfriend and new baby was arrested and charged with murdering his four month old. The baby was found to be suffering from brain bleeds, skull fractures and multiple rib fractures.
In Houston, an allegedly mature 31 year old father admitted to punching his 5 month old daughter in the abdomen so hard he killed her. He was angry because she wouldnâ€™t stop crying.
In Los Angeles, a 17 year old father kidnapped his 5-month-old baby after calling the childâ€™s mother and threatening to hurt the child. An Amber Alert was issued. When police saw the suspect and attempted to stop him, he fatally stabbed the infant. Deputies, helpless to stop him, watched in horror.
What is it about parenting that causes young men and women to be neglectful, abusive, and to react with violence towards infants and toddlers?
Child Abuse: What is it and Who is Most Affected?
Each State has laws which define abusive acts which may be addressed in criminal or civil courts. However, the U.S. Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) defines child abuse and neglect as:
Any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker, which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse, or exploitation, or an act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm.
CAPTA goes on to provide a detailed explanation of sexual abuse, which includes:
The employment, use, persuasion, inducement, enticement, or coercion of any child to engage in, or assist any other person to engage in, any sexually explicit conduct or simulation of such conduct for the purpose of producing a visual depiction of such conduct; or
The rape, and in cases of caretaker or interfamilial relationships, statutory rape, molestation, prostitution, or other form of sexual exploitation of children, or incest with children.
According to statistics, young children are the most vulnerable; one-third of the reported victims of child abuse were under the age of four. More children 0â€“4 years of age in the United States die from homicide than from infectious diseases or cancer. In the United States, an average of four children die every single day due to abuse and neglect.
Young children at the highest risk of homicide are those under age one. Homicides of children in this group include a certain number of infanticides (homicides in which recently born children are killed by relatives who do not want the child, are ill equipped to care for the child, or are suffering from a childbirth-related psychiatric disturbance).
Most homicides of young children are committed by family members through beatings or suffocation. Although victims include approximately equal numbers of boys and girls, offenders include a disproportionate number of women. Homicides of young children may be seriously undercounted as many may be erroneously attributed to accidents or natural causes.
Children living in low-income households experience 3-4 times the rate of child abuse and seven times the rate of neglect than children living in more financially stable households.
Households in which children live with a single mom and a â€œlive inâ€ boyfriend increases a childâ€™s risk of abuse to eight times that of children living with their married biological parents. (Children in households where the parents are married have the lowest risk for neglect and abuse of any demographic.)
Children living in single parent homes also experienced:
â€¢ 77 percent greater risk of being physically abused
â€¢ 87 percent greater risk of being harmed by physical neglect
â€¢ 165 percent greater risk of experiencing notable physical neglect
â€¢ 74 percent greater risk of suffering from emotional neglect
â€¢ 80 percent greater risk of suffering serious injury as a result of abuse
â€¢ 120 percent greater risk of experiencing some type of maltreatment overall.
The age of the childâ€™s mother has also been shown to influence the childâ€™s risks for mistreatment. Younger mothers have statistically higher rates of child abuse than mature moms. Lack of economic resources, the stress of single parenting, social isolation and a dearth of emotional support are factors which contribute to the higher rate of abuse amongst young parents.
Parenting May Not Be What You Expect
Many young women get caught up in the fantasy of pregnancy as the cure all for loneliness, a lack of family, or a lack of love. Some believe that having a child â€œfor himâ€ will be the ultimate giftâ€¦ the glue that will hold a maleâ€™s attention and keep him involved in a relationship forever. Other young women believe that since they were raised in a single parent home and turned out â€œokayâ€ that they can and should do the same.
Focusing on the â€œmiracle of lifeâ€ and â€œthe blessingâ€ they have been told they are carrying, many young women begin shopping for baby clothes and accessories. Their days are spent fantasizing about life as a proud mother of a beautiful little baby girl or boy. Amazingly, there is little to no focus on how drastically different life will be once they are saddled down with the burdensome responsibility of raising a child on their own.
It is not until the child is born that the reality of parenting hits. You will see then how exhausted you are, how broke you are, how people get tired of hearing your child cry so they refuse to babysit. You will see how your babyâ€™s father goes on about his business having fun with his friends or new woman, leaving you with the day to day stress and drudgery to handle all by yourself.
Your youthful years â€“ when you should be having fun and learning about yourself and the world, will instead be spent tied down with responsibility and obligation. As you struggle to put food on the table and keep the lights on, your anger and frustration will grow. But thatâ€™s not all!
You will be passed over for a relationship by many great suitorsâ€¦ men that donâ€™t want to be bothered with raising some other guyâ€™s child. They donâ€™t want to have to play second fiddle to a child that isnâ€™t their own. However, you will be of major interest to pedophiles that know that lonely, overly-trusting single mothers and their male-attention starved children are easy prey.
Many young women, so desperate for financial assistance and a break from parenting set themselves up to become victims of guys that want instant commitment. They proclaim themselves to be in love very early in the relationship. Watch out for those that want to move in right away, promising to â€œhelp youâ€ with bills you are desperate to pay.
Right now you have no clue about how depressed you will feel being stuck in the house week after week, taking care of a baby, changing smelly diapers and wondering where your new boyfriend or â€œbaby daddyâ€ is tonight. Youâ€™ll grow resentful at your responsibilities while your friends are going to college, enjoying parties and fabulous clothes, and creating a future for themselves as educated, influential women. You will be left behind.
Make Smart Choices for Yourself
Take a moment and reflect on who you want to be and where you want to go in life. Every young woman can become a shining star and make all her dreams come true! But when you make poor decisions about who you allow to use your womb, you suffer a loss of opportunities and possibilities. When you make impulsive choices without thinking about the repercussions of your actions, your child suffers those repercussions right along with you.
The realization that you have messed up your life and have no one to blame for it but yourself will hit you sooner or later. When that moment arrives, keep your hands to yourself. Shaking, slapping, pinching, punching, body slamming, neglecting or killing your child in frustration and anger are criminal acts. Your baby didnâ€™t ask to be here â€“ you chose that path when you could have had an abortion.
Right here, right now you have the opportunity to look into the future and make different choices for yourself. Begin by taking the time to plan your life and future goals. Children can be wonderful additions to your life plan, but should always be put AFTER educational accomplishment, career development and fiscal stability. Avoid making choices that will put you on a path to depression, poverty or prison for 25 to life.
There is no need for you to have a baby when you are not married and have no one to help you love, care for and support that childâ€™s growth and development. Children should not just exist, but be born into an environment where their lives are enriched by their parents love and devotion to their success.
Parenting a child is a two-person job best performed by a husband and wife. Why would you accept anything less for yourself or your child?
A Coordinated Response to Child Abuse and Neglect: The Foundation for Practice 2003. Author(s): Office on Child Abuse and Neglect (HHS), Washington, DC. Goldman, J., Salus, M. K., Wolcott, D., Kennedy, K. Y.
Child Homicide – Review of Statistics and Studies. June 2004. Dewar Research, Compiled by David J Yarwood (www.dewar4research.org)â€™
Child Murders by Mothers: Patterns and Prevention. World Psychiatry. 2007 October; 6(3): 137â€“141. Susan Hatters Friedman and Phillip J. Resnick
Child Welfare Information Gateway, http://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/statsinfo/nis3.cfm
Child Welfare Information Gateway. www.childwelfare.gov/systemwide/laws_policies/statutes/define.cfm
Murder of the Newborn: A Psychiatric Review of Neonaticide. 1970. American Journal of Psychiatry 126(10):1414â€“1420. Phillip J. Resnick
U.S. Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect. 1995. A Nationâ€™s Shame: Fatal Child Abuse and Neglect in the United States. A report of the U.S. Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Hustler Magazine. Child Abuse in America: Slaughter of the Innocents. October 1977. James W. Prescott, Ph.D. (http://www.violence.de/prescott/hustler-new/article.html)