Indianapolis TV site: Male Caretakers Common Thread in Baby Abuse Deaths


 POSTED: 11:16 pm EDT May 19, 2010

INDIANAPOLIS -- The recent death of an 8-month-old infant, authorities say at the hands of his mother's boyfriend, underscores a common thread in the abuse of babies.

Indiana child protection experts said in many cases, the male caretakers of infants and babies are responsible for abuse that severely injuries of kills children, 6News' Ericka Flye reported.

Experts point to many instances over the years, including the death of Carter McCord. Aaron Spears, 31, the boyfriend of the infant's mother, was held on neglect, battery and criminal recklessness charges. Those charges will likely be upgraded because the child died days after the abuse, police said.

Male caretakers often have no experience with a baby and get easily fed up with a child's cry.

"Often what we hear is that the unrelated male gets irritated and angry," said Roberta Hibbard, director of the Child Protection Program at Riley Hospital for Children. "'Why am I here taking care of someone else's baby when I would rather be out doing something else?'"

Hibbard teaches parenting skills to help people cope with the babies in their lives.

"Crying does not hurt a baby. How you react to that crying could potentially kill the baby," she said.

Spears told police that the baby suddenly lost consciousness, but medics said that it appeared the child had suffered severe injuries. Experts said violent shaking of the child is generally the culprit.

In a program called Think First, a doll is used to demonstrate how shaking triggers damage to the brain.

Experts said child abusers often have a history of violence that is ignored by parents.

"Someone who has been involved in physically abusive acts -- domestic violence -- those are not the people that you want to leave your young baby with, because they may not be able to control their own emotions," Hibbard said.

Signs of child abuse include unexplained injuries or bruising. The child may be lethargic or have seizures.

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