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Press Release
April 16, 2010

NYC Children's Services Urges Parents To Carefully
Choose Their Caregivers

Commissioner Mattingly Expresses Concern Over Recent Spate of Child Fatalities

New York – Administration for Children’s Services Commissioner John Mattingly today expressed very serious concern about the significant number of recent child fatalities in New York City in which very young children and babies were allegedly killed by their fathers or by a companion or boyfriend of the child’s mother. He urges all parents to use extreme caution when choosing their partners and anyone they leave to care for their children.

Since March 2010, six New York City children under age two lost their lives, allegedly at the hands of children’s fathers or their mothers’ companions; a seventh child was allegedly killed by a babysitter. There have been murder charges filed by District Attorneys in all cases. The New York City Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has reached a finding of homicide in six of these seven cases, in some instances determining there was Shaken Baby Syndrome; in other cases, there were findings of blunt force injuries to the head and internal injuries. In the most recent fatality, of a seven-month-old boy from Queens on Wednesday, the Medical Examiner has not yet determined the official cause of death. The child’s father was charged with murder, allegedly for punching the baby in the chest. Four of these recent cases were in Queens.

“We urge every parent, relative, community member and neighbor who is related to or close to families with young children to be extremely careful about who you leave your children with,” the Commissioner said. “Choosing a loving, caring and experienced person to care for your child is especially critical when children are very young and prone to crying or other behaviors that may provoke an inexperienced person to lash out violently,” Commissioner Mattingly added. “We urge in the strongest way possible that every mother think very carefully about who they are choosing as partners – as these situations can result in a child being abused or even killed when he or she is left in the care of a parent’s partner.”

The Commissioner said a parent should make sure anyone caring for their baby is well known to the parent; has experience taking care of babies and young children; and knows not to ever shake, hit, yell at, make fun of, or withhold food from the child as punishment. Shaking can cause bleeding in the brain that can injure or kill a child. It takes only a few seconds of shaking to seriously hurt a baby’s developing brain. “If you have the slightest concern that this person will not be a good caregiver, DON’T leave your child with her or him for even a few minutes.”

Other warning signs that an individual should not be left alone with children include adults who show too much anger or impatience when a child cries or has a tantrum; someone who scares your child, calls the child bad names or hurts the child – or the parent – in any way.

Commissioner Mattingly said he has spoken to colleagues from across the country, and that there seems to be a spate of such partner-related homicides, perhaps driven by stresses related to the economy. The State of Ohio has launched a campaign called “Choose Your Partner Carefully…Your Child’s Life Depends on It.” NYC Children’s Services is now working to create its own public service outreach campaign Citywide urging parents to be extremely careful about choosing their partners and caregivers.

TIPS:

Never Shake Your Baby

No matter how angry or frustrated you feel when your baby or toddler cries, and no matter how much he or she cries, never shake your baby or toddler. Shaking can cause bleeding in the brain that can injure or even kill a child. It takes only a few seconds of shaking to seriously hurt a baby’s developing brain.
When your baby cries:

  • Make sure he or she isn’t hungry, wet, cold or hot.
  • Offer a pacifier.
  • Walk around holding the baby close to you, in your arms or in a carrier. Talk or sing to him.
  • Call a trusted friend, relative, or neighbor to talk to or ask someone to come over and keep you company.
  • When all else fails, put your baby in the crib. Make sure she’s safe. Check in every five minutes or so. It is much better to let the baby cry than to do something to stop the crying that may be harmful.
  • If you feel  you can’t cope or need help, call 311 and ask for the Parent Helpline any time, day or night, or visit www.preventchildabuseny.org

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Contact:
Sharman Stein / Laura Postiglione 212-341-0999


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