The death of Jayda Kyle and JJ’ Munoz Bilbrey took hold of the Four State area. Two three year olds abused by the boyfriend of the mother in both situations. And neither family had any idea these men would be capable of something so horrible.
So I asked, how does a person know? What can you lookout for to make sure your baby is safe? And more importantly, how could someone do something like that?
“Most physical abuse cases are the result of inappropriate or out of control discipline, often kids are acting up or causing some sort of trouble and the response from the adult is not responsible or appropriate,” says Aary Crawford, Children’s Center.
“Spanking that got out of control or maybe up hitting across the face or using something other than a hand or belt like wooden spoons, I had one kiddo who say he was beat with a phone cord,” says Sherri Bryant, LPC Will’s Place.
In 2018 the Children’s Center helped 1056 children who were abused either sexually or physically in the Four State area. And the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says in 2017 more than 17 hundred children died from abuse and neglect across the nation.
“I do think that there’s a problem here, I think there’s a problem everywhere, children are vulnerable,” says Aary Crawford.
For parents it starts with anger and it’s not just with the child.
“I would say watching how they manage their anger and how they control themselves when they are angry,” says Sherri Bryant.
There can be signs that someone isn’t capable of controlling that rage.
“Slamming their fists down a lot or you can tell they’re being really aggressive, that can be a good sign that it may not be a good situation,” says Sherri Bryant.
“Often times, you don’t realize, until it’s too late,” says Bryant.
There’s no obvious way to know someone could be capable of harming such an innocent life.
“There’s lots of things that play into that kind of a situation, if you’re looking at resources, what kind of resources do they have? Because a lot of times, it’s a parent that is worn out, they don’t have a lot of extra help,” says Sherri Bryant.
There are other ways to discipline a child.
“I don’t think it’s true there comes a point when you must hit your child,” says Aary Crawford.
In December of 2018, the American Academy of Pediatrics condemned spanking. They say “corporal punishment or the use of spanking as a disciplinary tool increases aggression in young children in the long run and is ineffective in teaching a child responsibility and self-control. In fact, new evidence suggests that it may cause harm to the child by affecting normal brain development.”
“If spanking is what you feel is appropriate, you have to walk away, make sure you’re calm and then if that’s the resort you want to go to, you have to be calm, you can’t spank in anger because if you do, that’s when it gets carried away,” says Sherri Bryant.
So what do you do?
“We encourage parents to do is think of creative ways to communicate with their kids, use time-outs, use privileges in a way that can guide and direct their behavior, “says Aary Crawford.
“And if you can’t, you still can’t manage behavior, it might be a good time to get in and see a therapist maybe they can work on helping the child calm down or teaching other parenting skills, other options,” says Sherri Bryant.
Will’s Place offers behavior training for parents and children, teaching good parenting skills and helping understand the root of the issue with children. If you want to become more educated on signs and symptoms so that you can help a kid who might need your help, Children’s Place offers that as well.