At the hands of a maid
The local scene is flooded with images of maids lugging heavy schoolbags and holding the hands of their wards. These children, while seemingly fussed over, are sometimes unfortunately abused by their care takers.
Children tend to shield abuse marks or not talk about verbal abuse, however what’s not being said does not necessarily mean it’s not happening. On the contrary, there are also children who tend to inflict on themselves pain which cause scars that they use to gain attention from their parents and to push the blame of the scars on, these children usually push the blame on the easiest scapegoat in the house – the maid. How do you know which is real and which isn’t?
Know Your Child
Is your child clumsy or will easily whine about the slightest bump? If so then you know then little black and blue mark on his thigh could be from accidently hitting an object while falling down. If he’s kicking up a racket about a little knock from the table’s edge then you know your little one is the kind to write home about the smallest injury.
That’s also not to say don’t pay attention to his whines. Only do so if the crying continues for a long period of time. Usually such children are subdued when they realise they are not getting the attention they crave. However, if a certain part hurts, then the crying does not stop, not even when a reassured hug is issued.
Looks for signs of physical abuse on your kid. No we don’t mean strip the kid down each night and inspect. But try to give your child his bath every evening. This enables you to see if there are any telltale black and blue or red marks. Also, when a parent gives his/her kid a bath, it has been proven to strengthen the bond between parent and child.
If you have a baby in the house, never treat Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) as a slight thing. Look for signs of it. A baby with SBS may seem glassy-eyed, appear rigid, lethargic, and irritable, have a decreased appetite, difficulty feeding, or vomiting. He may be unable to focus his eyes on an object or lift his head. In severe cases, he may have difficulty breathing, or he may have seizures, heart failure, coma, and unconsciousness.
SBS occurs when babies are shaken in anger, usually. Shaken baby injuries usually happen to children who are younger than 2 years old, though the syndrome sometimes shows up in kids as old as 5.
Crossing from suspicion of abuse we come to prevention. Preventing the abuse not necessarily means preventing your child from the pain but on a deeper portion, it could mean preventing a child’s death. Remember the Louise Woodward case? Louise Woodward, an 18 year old British au pair (nanny) comes to Boston to look after two little boys and live with their family. 8-month-old Matthew Eappen died in her care and although the jury found guilty of second-degree murder. She faced a sentence of a minimum of 15 years to life in prison under Massachusetts’ law. However, 11 days later, Judge Hiller B. Zobel reduced the conviction to involuntary manslaughter, allowing her to walk free much to the disgust of the Eappen family. Till today, the world is very much undecided if the injuries on little Matthew was from an earlier accident or whether Woodward really caused it. Matthew’s mother, Deborah Eappen, was even demonised and blamed for the death at one point.
Whatever really caused Matthew Eappen’s death will remain a mystery. However, whether accidental or impulsive, a child’s life lost is extremely devastating especially to those closest to the child. How to prevent something that can certainly be stopped? Small preventive measures can go a long way.
The Hidden Camera
Every parent is curious about what goes on at home while they are at work. Wire up a camera in your home to your work computer and you can track what’s happening at every moment in the house. It is best to put the cameras in the living room, the children’s rooms and the kitchen. This way you’ll be able to track most of the movements. Many startling discoveries of child abuse have been caught with this highly competent piece of equipment.
From time to time, you and your spouse should try to pop in unannounced. This way, your maid of caregiver to your child will be going about her usual activities with the children and you would be able to get a real feel of what is happening.
What goes around comes around. No I’m not about to break out in a Justin Timberlake number. What I’m getting at is, treat her well. She will treat your children well. The Trial of Louise Woodward did at times point to Woodward being a little rough with Matthew due to the anger she harboured on his parents.
If you suspect abuse is happening, what should you do? Let her go. Even if you may be wrong, it’s easier to live with the thought that it might have or it might not have happened then to not trust a gut feeling that could be true.
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