Social Question

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

What's the best way to protect babies from their murderous mothers?

Asked by Captain_Fantasy (11439points) March 10th, 2010

Who doesn’t get upset when they read about a woman who kills her children? There was a time when a mother who killed a child of hers was remembered by name but now it’s become so frequent that it all fades into a huge mash up of deplorable human depravity.

Where I live, there are multiple stories about this sort of thing including recently, a 24 year old who gave birth and proceeded to place her newborn baby in a garbage can and put the lid on top. Luckily the sanitation workers through some sequence of events pulled the lid from the can and discovered the newborn still alive.

A lot of people read stories about that and think “there’s got to be something that prevents this from ever happening again!” So what do we do to minimize the occurrences of mothers killing their children?

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45 Answers

jrpowell's avatar

Ummmmmmmmm… Men do it too.

talljasperman's avatar

have better parenting training and screening in schools…but men and women naturally screen each other before having children

YARNLADY's avatar

Require a license before people can become parents.~

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

I’m not sure there is anything we can do. There is usually no warning, so we have nothing to react to. Unless you want a public mental health screening program, which would be prohibitively expensive, I fear there is nothing we can do.

talljasperman's avatar

@YARNLADY I think they tried that in an African country…they also outlawed sex out of marrage…I don’t know how it turned out

Trillian's avatar

@YARNLADY have you read any articles written by David Lykken? I agree completely.

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

Fine then; murderous “parents”.

YARNLADY's avatar

@Trillian Yes, but I wasn’t thinking in terms of genetics, but merely proper training, just like for a driver’s license.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@YARNLADY What would you do to punish parents that did not have a licence? Take their kid? I suspect that idea would just turn into another tax with a test as a formality.

syzygy2600's avatar

Society has a habit of always making women out to be victims. This is why when a man kills a child hes a monster, but when a woman does it they will say things like “its postpartum depression” as a way of diminishing her responsibility. If we want to solve these problems, we need to start portraying all murderers of children as monsters and not just the men.

talljasperman's avatar

@FireMadeFlesh China had a one child policy… if you broke the rule you lost some perks and I don’t know what else they did…they didn’t take your kids

lillycoyote's avatar

The best way is to try to diminish the stigma of postpartum depression, postpartum psychosis and other forms of mental illness so that mothers that suffer from these illness will be able to get help and that those who love them or are supposed to be supporting them don’t dismiss symptoms and problems that can result in such death, pain and tragedy. And 16 year olds? They barely even know how to take care of themselves. Demonizing women and children doesn’t really help and won’t do anything to prevent these things in the future and isn’t that what really matters? To understand this so it doesn’t happen anymore?

Trillian's avatar

@YARNLADY He doesn’t write from a genetics standpoint, but family dynamics. Training is mentioned, as are several other factors. Quite the interesting concept he has.

HTDC's avatar

@syzygy2600 But what if it actually is postpartum depression? I highly doubt the majority of mothers kill their child after some long, hard rational thinking. They are mentally unwell and need help.

escapedone7's avatar

@captain_fantasy I would be better able to answer the question if I understood why parents do this. I can understand someone not being ready to be a parent, getting so stressed out they no longer feel they can care for their child, etc. But that is why there are child protective services, adoption, welfare programs, etc. If I had a child and absolutely thought I could not handle it anymore, I think I would call child protection on myself and say “I’m about to lose it and I need help now!”, or even go to a hospital or something. Killing the kid would be the last, absolute last thing on my mind. The thing I would be thinking is “I am failing at this and I need to find help or a better home for this child.” When there are foster homes, social workers, mental health for depression and stress… when there is help to be had…. why do the parents choose this particular method of dealing? If I knew why, if I could fathom in my wildest dreams WHY, I might think of a solution. As it is, I can’t think of a way to predict or solve it while not understanding the reason or motive behind these acts.

The only thing I can think of, is this. A certain unnamed family member of mine has mental illness. Social workers come to the house to do wellness checks. It is just part of his treatment. Maybe a couple of home visits or home health as part of post partum care would help? I am racking my brains. I don’t know.

gemiwing's avatar

We need to take mental stress seriously. Offer parenting help without shame attached. Have social programs that every new parent can attend- even low-income parents. In our society we no longer have close community we can rely upon so we need to form a new community-based system that can help.

syzygy2600's avatar

@HTDC The majority of people who commit murders do so on the spur of the moment without thinking. Does that mean that they should not accept responsibility for and be punished for their actions?

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

It’s definitely a touchy subject.
Can a government mandate protect children without significantly imposing on the freedoms of the 99% of mothers who don’t kill their children as a result of postpartum depression?

Originally I specified “mothers” because of the existence of postpartum depression which is not a male phenomenon to the best of my knowledge.

I think that routine psychological evaluation much in the same vein as routine medical evaluations by a physician could prevent a lot of these terrible terrible tragedies.

HTDC's avatar

@syzygy2600 Depends on the circumstances of course. A woman who just gave birth to another human being isn’t something to take lightly. Sure it doesn’t “excuse” them, but it’s different to someone getting angry and taking their gun out to shoot.

PandoraBoxx's avatar

Infanticide dates back centuries. There is nothing new about it.

syzygy2600's avatar

@HTDC it is different, but at the same time a woman suffering from postpartum depression could have reached out to someone, be it a nurse, the father, the police, or a therapist to get help with her problem. Many women do that. And some are sociopaths who end up killing their own children, and a slick enough lawyer can get them off almost scot free.

escapedone7's avatar

Is it their way of ending something they just can’t deal with anymore, or is it a direct act of aggression to hurt the other parent in the worst way they can think of, or do they see it as merciful euthanasia from a miserable life as an apology for bringing a child into the world while unable to provide a stable life? I think we need to find a way of understanding what is going on in people’s minds. One thing that keeps coming to my mind is how my mother would jokingly say “I brought you into this world, I can take you out.” Perhaps bringing a life into the world makes one feel they also have the right to take back the decision during a state of psychosis? Is this like, the psychotic version of plan B?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@syzygy2600 Postpartum depression is a real illness and there is no need to trivialize it by putting quotation marks around it – educate yourself on it, please before you make uninformed sexist statements. I had severe postpartum depression completely caused by changing hormonal levels because of a difficult long labor..nothing could have helped except medications and had I murdered my child, it would be a different situation from someone who didn’t have postpartum murdering their child. And society doesn’t make women to be victims – we can barely have ‘society’ admit women are victims in situations when they actually are.

Judi's avatar

Universal healthcare with mental health parity would insure that those who are having trouble coping would have access to professional help before a tragedy occours.

davidbetterman's avatar

The best way would be to fix our society so that these mothers do not feel the need to dump their babies.

talljasperman's avatar

It takes a village to raise a child… maybe the village should have custody?

syzygy2600's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I’m sexist because I believe a woman should be treated the same as a man? And yes it is a real illness – depression. many people who commit crimes are depressed. Does that mean they get off free? In many cases, no, they do not. Maybe it’s you that needs some education. And if we don’t see women as victims even when they are, maybe you can explain why when a man and woman commit identical crimes, 99% of the time the man will receive a harsher sentence?

davidbetterman's avatar

Actually, insanity is a defense to most criminal charges @syzygy2600

syzygy2600's avatar

@davidbetterman we’re not talking about insanity. We’re talking about depression. I should have substituted that for mental illness in my last post.

talljasperman's avatar

@syzygy2600 some crimes need to be commited… like Han Solo from Star Wars If he didn’t smuggle Luke Skywalker to Alderon the rebellion would be crushed…and George Lucas wouldn’t be rich

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

hmmm… I think Star Wars is a little different than this scenario, although I totally agree that Greedo had it coming.

syzygy2600's avatar

Han shot first.

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

Han totally shot first.
Fuck special edition.

escapedone7's avatar

This seems like an amazing idea. People having various life issues can leave their child someplace safe while they take some time to deal.

Nullo's avatar

@YARNLADY
I don’t think that training would help any. Training can prevent accidents, but nothing short of actually tweaking someone’s mind can keep them from doing something as deliberate as leaving a kid in the trash. Or were you referring to training to counter the root of the problem?
I don’t think I’d much like the parental licensing thing. Talk about giving too much power to the government. And people complain about anti-abortion legislation with lines like “keep the government out of the bedroom/my uterus/ w/e…”

YARNLADY's avatar

@Nullo I don’t believe licensing would actually work in today’s society. However, training would – by giving people a knowledge of alternatives and resources for help.

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

There’s absolutely no reason in a discussion about mothers leaving babies in trash cans that my dumb quips about special edition Star Wars or Greedo shooting first should’ve received any “good answers” let alone 2! “Bad Answer” needs to be employed for quips like these.

I demand you take back your “good answers”. Clearly those were the worst answers ever and shame on whoever marked those as good answers to this discussion!

Nullo's avatar

@syzygy2600 Weird world, innit?

@talljasperman
I disagree with your contention that it takes a village to raise a child, seeing how there are many well-adjusted people in the world who grew up without the benefit of a village to look after them.

As for Star Wars, keep in mind that what is legally right or wrong is not also necessarily morally right or wrong. The film communicates that smuggling Luke and the droids was morally right, even though it was legally wrong.

Star Wars needs to be in more ethics debates. Period.
...
<nerd mode>And it’s spelled ‘Alderaan,’ not ‘Alderon.’ </nerd mode>

YARNLADY's avatar

@Captain_Fantasy I argue that any contribution adds to the overall ‘bottom line’ of the site, and as a marketing tool, the quantity, not the quality, is all that counts. Any contribution helps keep Fluther afloat with charging a membership fee.

talljasperman's avatar

@Nullo It wasn’t my contention I was just quoting something I heard as a child to get lurve….I think villages creates Idiots that always seem to get missing and end up in my town..However I stand corrected on the spelling of Alderaan

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@syzygy2600 No, you’re not sexist because you want a world where a man is treated the same as a woman – you’re sexist because you think women aren’t treated harshly enough and are under some delusion that postpartum depression is used as an excuse when it’s not – and I’d like to see some link (aka evidence) to your claim that for the same crime committed, men receive a harsher sentence – and if that is so, that is unfair.

tranquilsea's avatar

This is a multifaceted problem with no easy answers. I suspect many of the babies who are abandoned in bathrooms, trashcans, front steps etc. are the result of some, in the minds of the mothers, shameful sexual relations. Some are the result of incestuous relationships. How do you stop things like that?

When you are dealing with women who have postpartum depression or psychosis what is really needed is a super supportive family/extended family unit plus a wonderfully supportive therapist. Sadly, that is not often what women have in this “go, go, go” world. And really, is there a bigger perceived shame then being unable to look after your own baby? There may be some truly wonderful people who would be willing to help such women, but there are many others who are just plain cruel and judgmental.

With such broken support systems in society today, I doubt that we will see an end to these types of tragedies. But what we can do, each of us, is offer help or support to mothers we know are struggling. Offer to watch the kids so they can get a break for an afternoon. Offer your ear so the mom can vent. Be there for them and for the sake of the kids.

Silhouette's avatar

All you can do is try to educate, and I’m not really talking about the parents who wind up killing their children, I’m talking about those they come into contact with. For instance this woman, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0QZlablHuW8 She told several family members the baby was evil, she had a history of mental illness and it didn’t set off any alarms or the family just couldn’t be bothered with it, take your pick. All we can do is our own little part, pay attention, get involved, if you suspect abuse do something. Err on the side of caution. Also, I think you’re mistaken, it’s always happened but it was a shameful secret and the press didn’t report it like they do now. The shame of it all has been out weighed by the appetite for “shocking news reporting”.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

I don’t know if Health and Safety is taught as a class in Jr. High anymore but that would be the place to for posters to be put up with hotline phone numbers and drop off locations that would protect the identity of any woman surrendering her newborn. It might help a little bit but so many women of all ages are under the impression no one knows they’re pregnant in the first place and hide it, fearful of all kinds of family or social reaction while they try to figure what to do.

Joybird's avatar

Most species of mammals under duress will kill their young…some eat them after. We shrink back from that kind of horror but it’s a reality of being mammal. These are times of great duress for many people. Some people are always more afflicted with multiple stressors. There isn’t easy free access to birth control nor abortion in this country as there is elsewhere in the world and so it should come as no surprise when some women kill their newborns or young children. This is the reality of what has been created in our society for a handful of women.

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