In New York, Adrian Thomas, of building 2441, Cedar Park Apartments located on 21st Street, has been a subject of child abuse investigations twice in the recent past. Now he is the suspect in the fatal attack on his son, Matthew Thomas, a 4 month-old baby boy. Matthew died on September 23, 2008 at Albany Medical Center Hospital. The investigation revealed that Matthew was thrown forcefully onto a bed by his father on more than one occasion in the past two weeks. Matthew was brought to the hospital on September 21, 2008 in critical condition. Child Protective Services has removed six other children from the home.  

In June 2007 and in 2008, within the past month, CPS was called and visited the home for complaints of potential child abuse. New stories report that Adrian Thomas had revealed to them information regarding marital discord between him and his wife. Allegedly, he admits being rough with the baby out of frustration.  

There is no single factor identified as the cause of child abuse. In general, there is an interaction of multiple risk factors in the environment that place children at risk to be victims of abuse. Researchers have identified abusive parents or caregivers as having risk factors such as substance abuse, low self-esteem, mental or physical disability, depression, history of abuse as a child, poor coping skills, poor impulse control, history of violent behavior or history of being raised in a group setting with no positive parental role.

All children are potential victims of child abuse, but some factors increase the risk for a child to be abused. Children with disabilities are twice as likely to be emotionally, physically or sexually abused. Children with behavioral disorders that manifest as aggression or temper tantrums are at an increased risk to be abused. Males with mental disabilities tend to be victims of sexual assault at an older age then other children.   

Feelings of stress and frustration are normal while caring for infants and children, however acting out in a harmful way towards the infant or child is not acceptable and is dangerous. The caregiver should focus on developing an abuse-prevention plan for dealing with feelings of stress and frustration that may emerge in the presence of the infant or the child. The abuse-prevention plan should include a cooling off period and developing an effective coping behavior that prevents physical abuse from occurring. It is best for families to be proactive and make an effort to provide a supportive environment for caregivers with children by assisting with childcare and allowing the caregiver respite. And the caregiver should not hesitate to ask family members and friends to assist with childrearing. It takes more than one person to care for an infant or raise a child. If you or someone you know has difficulty managing anger than utilizing community programs may be necessary if the family is not supportive. Please don’t hesitate to contact an organization in your community to assist you with childcare and respite issues. Please seek assistance if you feel overwhelmed by stress. If you know someone that has expressed frustration and is feeling overwhelmed, reach out and assist in any way that you can. Communication is essential to preventing child abuse. Remember approximately four million children are abused annually. Less than half of those cases get reported ( Seeking assistance before an injury occurs is not a crime.   

Christopher Keane
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California Child Abuse and Child Injury Lawyer
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