October 16, 2012

Screaming Babies End Up Dead. Why?




Two infants die from head trauma. Why?

A mother killed her four-month old son. A year later, pregnant with her fourth child, she killed her six-month old son.1

The reason? She said she did it on both occasions because she was frustrated with the kids crying and she couldn’t deal with the constant crying.1

Although there’s no excusing the mother’s actions I can empathize.


I was eleven years old, my sister was twelve, when my mother’s boy friend Tom moved into our apartment. Soon Olive gave birth to the eldest child of her second family. Her parents, my grandparents, were none too pleased—in fact, her father was livid. A month after my sister’s birth Olive’s mother died.

Her parents had been Olive’s only support network twenty-two years.

By September Olive was pregnant again.  Tom left Olive and traveled ten hours west to his family home.

Olive placed her infant with someone she knew, and her pre-teens with someone else. Then she boarded a bus and (more…)

August 4, 2011

Newborns of Two New Castle (PA) Mothers Removed Due to Poppy Seed Ingestion




     Two mothers are suing the Lawrence County (Pennsylvania) Children and Youth Services for separating them from their newborns. They lost custody due to a positive prenatal drug test.

     Prenatal drug tests are not required by law, but Lawrence County policy allows the Children and Youth Services department to obtain court orders to take newborn children from mothers who test positive for opiates.*

     Elizabeth Mort’s lawsuit challenges the agency’s policy as unconstitutional for several reasons, including the use of 300 nanograms per milliliter as the point at which someone tests “positive” for opiates. The federal guideline is 2,000 nanograms per milliliter...

     Her case is pending before U.S. District Judge David Cercone.

      Eileen Bower’s lawsuit points to the fact that the drug screens she took as part of her prenatal care came back negative, so the agency should have questioned the result of the final drug screen before taking her child away. The agency didn’t wait for a confirmation by Quest Diagnostics

     Both twenty-two year old women tested positive due to the (more…)

April 2, 2011

A Theological Perspective on Child Abuse



With The Rev. Monte W. Holland

     Some important questions arise when speaking of theology and violence, abuse of children, spouses, family and friends. Below is an attempt to answer some of them.

  • Children must be MADE to OBEY (their parents, their caretakers), right?

Obedience IS important. Ephesians 6:1-4 and Colossians 3:20-21 instruct children to be obedient. But this directive does not stop there. It goes on to instruct PARENTS not to PROVOKE their children (to wrath). Implied is a mutual RESPECT: respect that begets respect. “Nobody ever hates his own flesh, but rather nourishes and cherishes it just as Christ does for the church…” (Ephesians 5:29) Our children are born out of our love, part of a continuation of our flesh. We should not treat them with hate or hateful actions.

  • Does not the Bible state that to spare the rod is to spoil the child? (Proverbs 13:24)

     Nowhere in the New Testament—the “new law”—is abuse justified. Rather, the opposite is expected, that you love one another as I have loved you. (John 15:12) The Great Commandment directs us You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22:37-40) Our family members—our spouse, our children, and sometimes our parents—are our (more…)

March 21, 2011

“Beyond Dumb” Parenting



If you leave my driveway the police will be notified immediately.

     The young man’s wife and two children, ages two and four, were leaving our home after spending several months with us. He brought a small rented van to transport their belongings. There was only room in the front for two persons. The upshot was that the man, over forty years old, was going to travel six hours to his home with the boys and their mother in the back of the packed van.

     That’s when I made the threat to contact the state police if the van left my driveway.


     This type of parenting apparently isn’t unique. A thirty-five year old Fall River (Massachusetts) man was accused of locking his two sons, ages three and six, in the trunk of his car while he ran an errand at a sailing shop. He told investigators the boys like to play in the trunk. (November 2009)

  •      I passed a man parked in an alley. On his lap was a two or three year old boy. “He likes to drive the truck,” the father told me proudly. “He sits on my lap and drives it down the mountain into town.”
  •      A twenty-nine year old Southwest Greensburg woman took her three week-old infant to a party where she allegedly became “severely intoxicated,” got into a fight, after which she (more…)

February 17, 2011

What Vitamins & Medications Do You Unknowingly Take?




     About two out of five adolescents have tooth streaking or spottiness because of too much fluoride, a surprising government study found recently. In some extreme cases, teeth can even be pitted by the mineral — though many cases are so mild that only dentists notice it…(the condition) fluorosis—is unexpectedly common in children twelve to fifteen years old. And it appears to have become much more common since the 1980s… The problem is generally considered cosmetic.*

     Only cosmetic? The article later points out that A scientific report five years ago said people who consume a lifetime of too much fluoride — an amount over EPA’s limit of 4 milligrams — can develop crippling bone abnormalities and brittleness.

     Although I don’t take fluoride supplements, as many people do—nor do I use store-bought toothpaste , as most people do, I’ve often wondered just how much fluoride has been added to my diet through the use of store-bought foods. I also wonder how much unknown vitamins, minerals and medications I’m taking simply by eating these store-bought foods and drinking from the community water supply.  

     Peruse the labels of items you purchase from the grocery shelves and you will notice (more…)

January 10, 2011

When Children’s Service Agencies Won’t Respond to Complaints



     It happened again. Another child, fifteen months old, dead, their parents in jail, accused of the infant’s murder.

     While Madison lay on a floor in a filthy home, dying, her mother was smoking crack cocaine and sleeping it off at a friend’s house…she said she didn’t plan on being gone long…Madison was been left with seven of her siblings, ages 3 to 16…the father told police he came home that evening, rigged up a replacement for Madison’s feeding tube, placed her on the living room floor, and went to bed.**

     It happened in Fayette County, in Southwestern Pennsylvania, where I lived for eight years.

  • State police at Uniontown charged Robert David Dodson, 55, and Tammy Jo Bohon, 35, of 601 Morgantown St., Point Marion, with criminal homicide and endangering the welfare of children in the death of Madison Violet Dodson…Trooper Scott Kroftcheck said the child was found dead at home. District Attorney Jack Heneks Jr. said he supported filing of charges based on preliminary autopsy findings and preliminary state police investigations… Heneks said preliminary findings indicate Madison died from a combination of dehydration and malnutrition, with secondary causes that he did not explain…Heneks said homicide charges can include intentional, knowingly reckless or an unintentional cause of death. “We believe their conduct led to the death of Madison,” Heneks said.*
  • Lead investigator Trooper Timothy Kirsch said police found the residence “unkempt, with clothing throughout and cats coming in and out of the kitchen cabinets. There were animal and human feces and dirty diapers in the residence. There were no trash cans, only trash bags. Some of them had burst open. One room was full of dirty clothes. The beds were only box springs and mattresses, no linens. The toilets and showers were unclean.”*

     Is this the lifestyle of residents of Fayette County? I wonder…

     Looking back, I remember a woman (I’ll call her Alice) with an eight year old daughter I’ll call Bonnie. The two often visited us—Alice sought counsel and education. She was ill, and often had to leave Bonnie in someone’s care while she was in the hospital. Most of the time, the Bonnie stayed with us.

     Alice and Bonnie lived in a small one-bedroom apartment. Her shower was filled with plastic bags of clothes and trash. Dirty dishes were strewn all over. Cat feces was never cleaned up. Cigarette butts were spread all over. I could continue, but I suspect you get the idea…

     Alice invited another woman to stay in the apartment with her and Bonnie, which meant Bonnie was displaced to the couch in the living room while their “guest” used the bedroom.

     Bonnie and Alice always smelled so bad I wanted to shove them into the shower before we visited. Their “perfume” was powerful—combined cigarette smoke and animal feces smelled so strong it covered (more…)

January 5, 2011

Chemicals Injure Children in Child Care Facilities: Abuse or Accident?



Abuse or Accident?

     It reads nonsensical, almost SciFi: A child care worker places a Drano-soaked diaperon a seven-month-old girl, Brielle…burning her abdomen, backside and legs. Not mildly burning her—chemical burns are the worst—they eat the skin…and they worsen with exposure. . A lawyer representing the infant and her mother, Kimberly Spriggs, understates it mildly: This is clearly somebody’s negligence. Another understatement by Dr. Bruce Dixon, director of the Allegheny County Health Department: It’s unfortunate that this happened.

     Regardless of who brought the Drano into the Butterfly Garden Early Learning Center (McKees Rocks, Allegheny County, PA) December 30, 2010, no matter how the product managed to soak the Center’s diapers, a question remains: How does a person (more…)

October 16, 2010

Baby Removed from Home after Mother Eats Poppy Seeds




A Pennsylvania House Bill 2760, passed three years ago, allows hospitals to test a mother’s  blood to protect newborns.

  • Children and Youth Services removed Elizabeth Mort’s three day old child from her New Castle, Pennsylvania, home because the mother tested positive to opiate use.
  • The ACLU believes Jameson Hospital and agency workers made a judgment without thoroughly investigating.
  • Mort’s positive test was due to her ingestion of poppy seeds, which can influence drug tests.

     Jameson Hospital may have gone too far by failing to consider what Mort might have eaten. (read Can Poppy Seed Ingestion Affect Drug Tests?)

     “One thing I think is a violation is the fact that Lawrence County CYS immediately got a court order without the parents present to remove a newborn baby based solely on the hospital’s report of a positive drug test,” said Sara Rose of the ACLU, noting that CYS may have violated the law.


     This isn’t the first time Lawrence County’s Children and Youth Services overreached their powers.

     While living in New Castle in the latter 1980s I came to know a woman I’ll call Sylvia. While five of her children were removed from her home and placed for adoption she remarried. A child was born from this union.

     I was closely involved with Sylvia, and worked with her, teaching her to overcome a number of problems. She was a good “student,” and had the Children and Youth Services helped her in this way, she would not have needed me. Instead, they (more…)

September 6, 2010

Must we Yield to the Force of Inappropriate Touch?



Have We Lost Our Common Sense?

SCRIPTURE: Galatians 3:11     Clearly no one is justified before God by the law because, “The righteous will live by faith.”  (NI)

REFLECTION: Our world has been turned upside down. Signs should be posted.




     That is, do not hug children. Any physical show of affection is risky and can result in child abuse charges. You must bear the consequences of the actions of child molesters.

     This paranoia is fed by (more…)

August 21, 2010

Bear One Another’s Burdens



SCRIPTURE: Galatians 6:2    Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.     

Related Scripture:  Romans 15:1

REFLECTION: It takes a village to raise a child is wisdom. Parents cannot be all-seeing, all-knowing, omnipresent.
     One Sunday morning I meandered to my window to enjoy the playing of two young boys whose voices wafted through my open window Instead I found something frightening! They were playing “chicken” with big trucks speeding down the hill in front of the church parsonage where I lived.
     It was not my business. Right? I was in no condition to do anything in my robe and curlers. Right? I had to be at church in fifteen minutes, so I didn’t have time to act. Right? (more…)

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