The recent case of Isiah Webb, the toddler who died of physical abuse while being watched by his mother’s boyfriend got me to thinking. “What about the mother?” I asked myself. She wanted to fix up her living space so she took Isiah across town to stay with her boyfriend James for a few hours. When she returned in a short length of time her son was dead. The boyfriend wasn’t the only bad character in this tragedy was he? The young mother Darlene might not be legally criminal, but she was morally wrong.
Young mothers can prevent child abuse killings by having an understanding of some of the qualities of motherhood. One quality of motherhood is responsibility. A young mother has the responsibility or duty to make sure certain things are done right for her baby. She makes good decisions about who watches her baby. She exercises protective care over her baby. She scrutinizes other peoples’ behavior when they are around her baby. Another quality of motherhood is love. A young mother starts to bond with her baby shortly after birth. She continues this feeling of close love between herself and her baby throughout the early years. This is done for the baby’s sake as well as the young mother’s sake. It embeds in the young mother the feeling of caring that a young mother needs to accept the good and the bad. A young mother might have a cute baby, but a sick baby. A third quality of motherhood is patience. A young mother needs patience to fulfill her responsibilities. She knows that a baby gets in the way when there are things that need to be done. She also knows her baby comes first.
Young mothers can prevent child abuse killings by not asking boyfriends and husbands to watch their babies. First, some young men do not have a natural tendency to watch babies for even a short period of time. Some young men need to be taught parenting skills. A young mother is considered lucky if she meets a man that comes from a big family with younger siblings and has had to help take care of them. He may have knowledge of a baby’s behavior. Back in 2004 in the case of David Ashford, his mother’s boyfriend didn’t have a good knowledge of a baby’s behavior. Martez Coburn, 20, a Lawndale man became upset after David soiled himself. Coburn hit the two-year-old toddler causing his death.
Second, some young men may be insulted if they are asked to stay at home and watch a baby. They may feel bad because they have nowhere to go and no prospects of a job. A crying, irritable baby just adds to some men’s depressed mood and they might take their disappointments out on a helpless baby. In 2005, according to Assistant State’s Attorney Maria McCarthy, 9-month-old Walter Jackson was left in the care of Michael Thorpe, 31.The mother called home to check on Walter three times. After Thorpe was arrested Nov. 15, he allegedly told investigators he struck the boy twice because he felt stuck with him and could not go outside. Walter died two days later.
Third, some young men lack the temperament needed to watch a baby. They are put into a situation of being responsible for a toddler or infant, but they cannot cope with the situation. Such was the case with Elijay Ferguson a one-month-old infant left in the care of his father. The father, Rudell Ferguson, 25, said he administered CPR because the boy stopped breathing. The hospital staff told police that Elijay had several bruises on his body that they believed were not consistent with the administration of CPR. Ferguson later admitted to injuring his son. Elijay died after being taken off life support.
Young mothers can prevent child abuse killings from happening. The time young mothers spend with babies is a short time. They should seek to ensure that they enjoy the time. Darlene’s mother had died a few months before her situation. There was no one in the house to watch her baby while she fixed up her room. Maybe she needed to wait until a reliable person was available to watch her baby.