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Was Hazelwood Baby Death Preventable?

Hazelwood Patch speaks with the Crisis Nursery about what parents can do when feeling stressed or that they may hurt their children.

Last week, a mother was charged in the City of Hazelwood with the murder of her infant son. The woman who was living out of an area hotel, said the incident was an accident and that she forgot she left the water running with the infant in the tub when she became distracted doing something else.

Police arriving on the scene said she was administering CPR to the child, still prosecuting attorneys found reasonable cause to believe the incident was not an accident as she stated.

Parents At Risk of Doing Harm

Feeling as though you may do harm to your child is not uncommon during this time of year, according to DiAnne Mueller, CEO at Crisis Nursery, an organization committed to preventing child abuse and neglect by providing short-term, emergency shelter for children, birth through age 12, whose families are faced with emergencies or who are in crisis..

Mueller said she could not comment on the specifics of this incident because all the facts have not been released to the public, but she did say similar deaths can be prevented.

"In general we do hear pleas for help," she said. "Living in poverty is extremely stressful with figuring out your next meal and trying to pay bills."

Mueller said parents that have lost their job and are getting evicted, or mothers dealing with post-partum tend to feel the most stressed.

"They have said maybe my child would be better off, not living," she said. "Parenting is a really hard job.

"There are so many young mothers out there doing it on their own but they are not alone; we want to help them be the best parents they an be."

About Crisis Nursery

Crisis Nursery is available to parents 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. There are five locations known as safe havens for families in crisis and a hotline, 314-768-3201.

"We are here for parents feeling overwhelmed and stressed, moms fleeing domestic violence situations, and those experiencing homelessness that have now one," she said. "Many times the parent decides the child should stay at the nursery with us for a while."

Parents decide when it's time for their child to leave the nursery and return home.

Mueller said 99 percent of kids are able to return home.

"That can be a fear parents have," she said. "Once they leave their children they think they won't ever come back home, but we are just there to help them any way we can and they decide when they no longer need our support."

While children are at the nursery, Mueller said everything is provided for them: food, clothing, medication if needed, a medical physical to assess their needs. And it's all free for the families.

"A lot of people say there is nothing free in this world, but keeping kids safe is free," Mueller said.

Contacting Crisis Nursery

It starts with the 24 hour help line, 314-768-3201, according to Mueller. Parents distress call the line and speak with someone about what's going on in their lives. From there they may have emergency placement for children or they may decide to take part in the nursery's family empowerment program where staff will come out and bring supplies, food or whatever is needed, and provide parenting support.

"There is constant phone contact when parents are a part of the program," Mueller said. "While visit we may realize the parents don't have any food and bring out some groceries; or they have been feeding their baby water because they don't have any formula so we bring that."

There are also parenting groups that serve as counseling session where parents can learn how to be the best parent they can be.

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Tips for Stress

Mueller said it's normal this time of year to feel overwhelmed as a parent.

"The holidays aren't magical and wonderful for everyone," she said. "Set realistic goals for Christmas."

Mueller said if you can't afford a bit to-do for the holidays don't break the bank trying to make it happen.

"I suggest shooing at the $1 Store or a Dollar General," she said. "It's not the amount the gift costs it is the thought."

Mueller also said acknowledging grief is healthy this time of year.

"Allow your self time to feel sad if you are missing someone that has passed, or is no longer in your life," she said.

She suggests finding a way to remember them and making it an annual event like going to a grave site, donating to their favorite charity or doing something they always enjoyed.

Other key tips for managing stressful times in life include reaching out for help.

"Pick up and call us even in the middle of the night," Mueller said "Insomnia can be a sign of stress or feeling bad."

Mueller also advised to take time for yourself to de-stress, and to step back and count to 10 when you feel at your max.

"This is especially beneficial when babies cry," she said. "We try to let parents know it's normal and it's their way of communicating and that it doesn't mean you are a bad parent."

Hotline Time

If your specific situation wasn't mentioned above, be sure to call the Crisis Nursery hotline individualized attention.

Helping Out

Crisis Nursery has been in the area for 26 years. It services 7,000 children a year.

If you would like to volunteer at one of its centers you have to be at least 14. Visit the website. Call 314-768-3201 to volunteer.

You can also donate supplies. Mueller said the centers always need diapers, formula, mittens and hats during the winter.

Click this link to view a list of the nursery's wish list items or visit crisisnurserykids.org.

There are 7 Crisis Center Nurseries Throughout the Area:

Ashley December 15, 2012 at 02:49 PM
I knew nothing about Crisis Nursery. It sounds like a great resource to keep kids alive. Parent shouldn't be ashamed to say they can't do it. Give the child up before you kill it.

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