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Local opinion columnists

Be the voice for abused children

By From page A7 | March 27, 2014

There are not too many more shocking things to hear than a young father biting the nose off of his infant child. In a story that made national news, 18-year-old Fairfield resident Joshua Cooper was arrested on suspicion of biting off a third of his 1-month-old son’s nose. The child also suffered a skull fracture and brain hemorrhage.

Cooper has pleaded not guilty to felony charges of child abuse and aggravated mayhem.

Responses to the articles on the Daily Republic website, other news websites and Facebook show angry readers wishing the perpetrator be killed in prison if he’s convicted. That’s understandable. You hurt a baby and I’ve got no sympathy for you.

But often many of those arrested for shaking a baby or physically battering a child don’t fit our stereotypical image of a monster beforehand. Most people who harm children are overwhelmed, frustrated and unskilled in parenting and have poor coping skills. It could be your son or daughter, friend or sibling. It only takes seconds of losing their temper to inflict permanent harm on an infant.

Cases like Cooper’s get headlines for their shocking violence, but abuse and neglect go on all the time around us. According to Safe Horizons, there 3.6 million reports of child abuse a year in this country with 80 percent of the victims under the age of 4.

To combat this problem in the long term, we’re going to need more education on child abuse and shaken baby syndrome in our schools and other forums. We need more young people taking parenting classes and anger management courses. And yes, we need increased use of contraception so those ill prepared to handle children don’t have them.

After a September 2012 shaken baby case, Fairfield police purchased a RealCare shaken baby simulator doll to demonstrate and educate the public on how little force it takes to permanently injure a child. A second doll was donated and several demonstrations were presented last year. We need more of them and more public participation.

It’s dismaying that mandatory reporters like teachers, social workers and police report the majority of child abuse cases. Parents and relatives make up nearly 14 percent while neighbor reporting is less than 5 percent. We can do better than that.

An abused child is everyone’s business. A third of abused children grow up to become abusers. According to a National Institute of Justice study, abused children are 11 times more likely to engage in criminal activity as teens and nearly three times as likely to do so as adults.

It’s hard to call the authorities on a spouse, relatives or friends when you suspect abuse. I know because I’ve had to do it. But to me, the child’s safety was more important than that guy’s friendship. “Forsaken baby syndrome” leaves a child at risk.

If you see something, say something. Call Solano County Child Protective Services at 1-800-544-8696. If you’re overwhelmed and need help, visit www.solano.networkofcare.org/mh/index.aspx for helpful services. Peace.

Kelvin Wade is the author of “Morsels” Vols. I and II and lives in Fairfield. Email him at [email protected]

Kelvin Wade

Kelvin Wade


Discussion | 5 comments

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  • my2centsMarch 27, 2014 - 6:34 am

    Well said. Education about the law and the demanding responsibilities that come along with having a baby should be part of the high school curriculum. No 17 year old is ready for that kind of responsibility. I feel so sorry for the permanently scarred baby, and the no doubt permanently scarred father. Some Teens do become sexually active. They need access to information and health services to prevent such tragedies.

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  • CD BrooksMarch 27, 2014 - 6:57 am

    Kelvin, as the parent of a handicapped child it is impossible for me to see people with completely normal children complain about their behavior and whine about a "difficult life," and not think poorly of them. As a grandfather that participates in the care and upbringing of our little ones, I am appalled at the very thought of anyone hurting a child. They are defenseless and innocent relying on those in charge to care for them and keep them safe. I get that kids are overwhelmed and lack proper skills to be a parent. But as I hold my 11 month old granddaughter and look into her eyes as she studies me knowing somehow she's safe, I seethe inside over this ugliness. My feelings on the subject are well documented here, I do not believe in second chances for child abuse and cannot articulate the level of violence I believe should befall those criminals. Once again, I recommend the "Dennis Miller philosophy."

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  • Leonard R AlexandreMarch 27, 2014 - 7:14 am

    CD Brooks, you have my utmost respect. I was raised in the foster care system and by my Grandparents. I was one of those victims of child abuse you speak of and also the father of an "Autistic Child." To this day I still cary the emotional and psychological scars from my abuse. You are very accurate in your remarks, unless someone has walked in our shoes it's difficult to understand.

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  • Carolyn LongMarch 27, 2014 - 3:30 pm

    Great article Tony, I think parenting, child abuse, an anger management classes, are important life skills that need to be mandatory for students in all middle school's and high school's, I feel there should be classes about bullying, starting in pre-school an continuing up. School counselors need to be more open to students and their needs, an during school orientations an through out let the children know they are there. As adults we have the responsibility to ensure children an others are safe. Doctors, social workers, should have classes to help parents learn the challenges of their upcoming parenthood. I see so much wrong due to others belief how i should raise my children, an by the examples i have seen by other's. Such as punishment should be given for not being potty trained at one, i did not listen to that advice. The best thing ever for me was taking the Child Development class at Solano College with Professor Davidson, I learned more about myself an my children's development. I encouraged my children take the course while they were in high school. I hope someday all can see the light to stop abuse before it happens.

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  • Carolyn LongMarch 27, 2014 - 3:33 pm

    Sorry Kelvin, I gave credit to Tony. Your article is great. And Tony this was a awesome share

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