Friday, September 08, 2006


A pediatrician friend telephoned me. "Do you remember the Doe twins, 31 weekers born a couple months ago who did well?" I vaguely remembered them. "Well, I just admitted one of them on the ward, and the other one is in theICU with head injuries and multiple fractures of varying ages." Apparently the mother, who has about eight kids, admitted to being rough with the twin, and later admitted to sitting on him. The twin my pediatrician friend took care of was in the hospital just for protection and to get x-rayed. I don't know exactly what the head injuries were on the twin in the ICU, but he is expected to have lasting neurological damage.

Multiple fractures of varying ages means someone - the mother in this case - abused the child multiple times, and abused him hard. It takes a lot of force to break a child's bones, even an infant's. He also had retinal hemorrhages, bleeding in the back layer of the eye, indicating that he was shaken.

I've written before about shaken babies, and said at that time that I thought many child abusers were not necessarily evil but rather very much like us. They loved their kids, but they lost it sometimes with them when they were frustrated instead of coping some other way. Now, though, I'm not so sure I'm willing to give this mom the benefit of the doubt. Losing your temper and abusing your kid one time is bad enough, but something that we can understand, even though we don't condone it. But how can you say you love a child you abuse multiple times? If you really loved him, you would get some help for yourself to keep from doing it again.

I don't know what's going to happen to this mother. Her other kids will almost certainly be taken away from her - maybe they already have been - and I wonder if she'll be arrested. Even though I'm ticked off at her, I still feel sorry for her and hope she gets some help. But I don't ever want her to get custody of her kids again.

P.S. This afternoon a radiologist told me about a 7 month old who showed up in the emergency room with 16 fractures, including a complete fracture of the femur. Can you imagine how hard someone had to beat that baby to cause so many fractures? It's sickening.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Child abuse is such a horrible crime. I have no sympathy for abusers... an adult should not hurt a small innocent child that can't even defend itself. Ugh. Abusers and rapists are scum.

8:18 PM  
Blogger Clark Bartram said...

Unfortunately children have less rights than animals in many instances. A few years ago a Tennessee man got 5 years for publicly kicking a dog to death but child abusers go free or get slaps on the wrist all the time.

You don't even want to get me started on abuse horror stories. In my short career I've already seen foreign body insertion into a 5 year old's penis by the mother, vaginal rape of an infant with a knife, and a young infant who was picked up by the ankles and repeatedly slammed onto the edge of a coffee table. It is a sick world out there and I can't help at times thinking how I would feel if I found out my child was abused in some way. I am so freakin mad right now and I don't even know why. Child abusers make me physically ill god I just can't stand it. I need to go before I explode here.

10:46 PM  
Blogger Dream Mom said...

I can hardly bear to read stories like these since they are so upsetting. No child should ever have to endure that.

I especially worry about all the special needs children in the world-those who can't talk, walk or help themselves and the abuse they must go through by the hands of those who don't care or who don't understand them. Sometimes, these kids will be difficult and fuss because they need to be changed, are hungry or whatever and I can only imagine parents and caregivers who lose it with them. I pray often for all of the special needs kids, that they are well taken care of and not abused. But I care about all kids, not just special needs.

One of my neighbors was a criminal prosecutor for the state's attorneys office (his father was a neurologist) and he used to tell me horror stories of child abuse cases that he was prosecuting.

I can no longer read stories of such horrors because I find them so upsetting. I can only pray for a better life for these children and that their abusers get the maximum sentences.

11:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It turns my stomach. Sadly, this sort of disgusting behavior by so-called "parents" is happening more than we realize. I was just reading in the paper about a father of a 2-year-old girl that killed his neighbor because of suspected/alleged sexual abuse. As much as I don't condone "taking the law into our own hands", if the neighbor was guilty, at least this way he doesn't sit in jail and earn degrees or get a slap on the wrist so he can get out, do it again,and ruin yet another innocent child's life. SICK.

This mother obviously needs serious help and punishment; but, before they work on her head, they need to give her a tubal ligation (what business does she have with 8 kids? Where are their fathers? Has she not heard of birth control, Plan B, or even abortion? I'm amazed she can find the time to procreate. Unbelievable).

What a horrible existence for her kids (and so many others around the country/world). Very sad.

11:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Like some of the other posters stories like that make me physically ill.

It's not politically correct, but forced sterilization still has a place in society in my opinion.

11:49 AM  
Anonymous Kelley said...

I'll never understand. I've been so frustrated that I have screamed at my two but then felt like the worst mother on the planet for just that, apologizing like crazy. I just can't, for the life of me, figure out how anyone could look at the little faces....and hurt them. They have to be very, very sick individuals.

2:51 PM  
Anonymous Dianne said...

It's not politically correct, but forced sterilization still has a place in society in my opinion.

Reading stories like this always makes me feel like that too, but really, when you think about it rationally, is this a good idea? Do you really trust the government--or anyone else--to decide who should and shouldn't be having children? The last time they got to decide who to sterilize, child abusers were NOT who they went after.

4:35 PM  
Blogger Flea said...

Agree with all sentiments expressed. And now a very small word of caution: Let us not throw the baby out with the bathwater (horribly insensitive metaphor intended). Parents must not be assumed to be abusers until proven otherwise. This is the attitude in many healthcare settings where I have worked.



7:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does it seem worse to you that these babies were abused after much time, effort and money were spent on their care after birth, rather than a full-term healthy baby? I'm just wondering, I'm not trying to stir up any controversy.

I live in a university town and a few years ago a young man died from falling from a balcony while drunk on his graduation night. The general consensus seemed to be that this was worse because he and his parents had just spent all this money on his education and he never got to use it.


1:13 PM  
Blogger neonataldoc said...

Liz, I don't thnk it's worse because they were premies and had more time an effort spent on them. Abuse is horrible for any child.

Although Flea's and Clark's comments are on different issues, they both have a point.

As for forced sterilization, it's tempting to think about but in reality I wouldn't want it. Wouldn't that be a form of abuse?

9:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To add to the sterilization debate-
I don't feel that the government/society, etc, has the right to PERMANENTLY sterilize anyone. However, when someone has abused a child, their other children are (usually) taken away until the parent is deemed able to safely parent again (whether or not they can is a whole other ball of wax...) Therefore shouldn't they be requiered to receive regular depo shots/have a norplant during this time so that they cannot have any more children? (Obviously I am referring to women in this instance) Why is it OK for someone to have all their living children taken from their custody, while they still have the right to bear more children?

The social services system in this country is badly flawed. The social workers I know are wonderful people, but the burnout rate in CPS jobs is incredibly high. The system is terribly broken and must be fixed. And ways to prevent these situations have to be looked at.

12:35 AM  
Blogger michelle said...

I doubt the govt could impose birth control on a woman, many people ethically or religiously oppose BC. As it stands, women who have a child in CPS custody and go on to give birth are often monitored, and the new child is removed from the hospital into a foster home. That is, in fact, how the child I raised for almost 4 years was placed into the foster care system. He had older siblings placed, and he was removed directly after birth.
Without going into depth about the matter, I will add this...the little boy that I raised as my own and who was placed for adoption at 3 yrs 8 months was killed 14 days after entering his new adoptive family. We had given them precise details on his eating, bleeding, behavior, and emotional needs, and the state never bothered to make sure those parents had the supports in place to deal with those tremendous needs. Of course, that is NO excuse, but he was suffocated and beaten to death 14 days from the day he left my home. Had DCF bothered to background check these people, they would have found serious, ongoing issues. Had they cared about the CHILDS needs, they would have made sure he had a support network layed out for him at his new home. In fact, he didnt even have medical insurance there. A child with documented serious medical issues, considered medically fragile, with Von Willebrands, CP, velo cardio facial syndrome, and a serious eating disorder was sent to another state with no followup, no plan of care, and no supervision. I got him back, of course, to bury.

8:37 AM  
Anonymous Kim said...

I'm like Clark, I'm so angry right now, but I'm also sick to my stomach.

I forced myself to read all the comments because I know I can't hide from this, especially as an ER nurse.

And Michelle, my heart goes out to you and your foster son. Poor baby.

7:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know what to say. I have met so many families over the past year and a half who have lost their babies because of pregnancy related problems or preemie issues...what they would give to have their children home with them and yet there are so many living that suffer at the hands of parents and others.

....My heart aches that these beautiful children know no different......that what they experience is "normal" for them....I do not know what posesses people to hit children.....the thought of what these kids endure is deafaning to me.

I can't imagine what those of you who see this firsthand must feel. My thoughts go out to you.....what you do is amazing, through it all, I hope you know that you can and do make a difference, whether for a moment or a lifetime for these children.

12:30 PM  
Blogger xyzseira said...

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9:37 AM  
Blogger xyzseira said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

9:38 AM  

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