OUR VIEWS: Parents need to know they can ask for help

Sep 10, 2012

Along the way, the expectant parents are learning many things through childbirth classes, prenatal care, the maternity ward and early pediatrician visits. Heaps of information is given on how to take care of the baby in utero and how to care for the baby once it’s born.

Parents are warned that shaking a baby can result in irreversible damage to the infant.

Most parents would never dream of harming their little one. Then they take their baby home and experience a reality that, tragically, not all new moms and dads are prepared for.

Imagine going on very little sleep for days at a time, attempting over and over to console your screaming newborn, but the baby keeps crying.

This can be overwhelming even to the best of parents. But regardless of the caregiver’s fatigue or frustration, there is never an excuse for purposely harming a child. The damage can be irreversible, even fatal.

Locally, we’ve all followed the heartbreaking story of Baby Bentley, who suffered tremendous physical harm, allegedly at the hand of his father. His mother won’t know the full extent of her son’s brain damage for years to come as numerous developmental milestones come and go.

Just east of us, in Ionia, the father of 3-month-old twins is on trial for the death of the baby boys as a result of child abuse.

We need to do all we can to help prevent future tragedies such as these. We’ll never know if the outcomes in these situations could have been different, but there are additional tools available that could be provided more often with more emphasis to every parent.

Parents know who to contact in the event of a fever or an earache. They need to know who they can reach out to when their patience wears thin.

There is immediate help out there when parents are at their wit’s end. Parents can call their doctor’s 24-hour number, call the emergency room to speak to a medical professional, or call Parents Anonymous for help. A simple call to friends or family could also prove valuable in such situations.

These sources can help parents through those rough moments and perhaps prevent someone from physically harming an innocent infant.

There are many points along the way where new parents can be given this valuable information to help prevent a tragedy — the prenatal doctor, childbirth classes, hospital, pediatrician, even friends and family who are part of the soon-to-be parents' lives.

Parents Anonymous has a National Parent Helpline. They offer help, no questions asked. Their motto is “Asking for help is a sign of strength.” How true.

Help prevent a potential tragedy. Share the number: 855-427-2736.

Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung, Liz Stuck and Fred VandenBrand. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to news@grandhaventribune.com or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.
 

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