Child deaths highlight need for background checks

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) — Two child deaths just a few days apart in Hampton Roads highlight the need to be proactive about safety for little ones.

This week, 10 On Your Side has been following the cases of a Norfolk woman charged with the death of 20-month-old and a Hampton man charged in the death of 3-year-old.

The disturbing number of child deaths prompted WAVY.com to comb through the latest report by the Hampton Roads Child Fatality Review Team. Last year, it found at least 12 children died due to abuse or neglect. Of those, four were killed by their fathers, six by their mothers and two by their mom’s  boyfriends.

“The majority of [child] deaths are in the kids who can’t speak for themselves, the younger kids, the babies,” said Betty Wade-Coyle, the Executive Director Emeritus of Champions for Children.

Wade-Coyle cautions single parents to take a second look at their boyfriends or girlfriends: “Don’t have somebody move in with you,” she said. “Or try not to have the person you’re in a relationship with as your babysitter because that’s just too entangled.”

“A lot of people’s living arrangements come as convenience or economics, and the babysitting comes as kind of a side thing,” Wade-Coyle pointed out.

Her advice: check out your significant other as you would any other child care provider. Go online and Google them for starters, do a background check, get references, talk to their family, friends, even their exes.

The person you love, she said, may be different when you’re not around, “particularly people who want to sexually abuse sort of  look around for moms who need child care.”

Aside from background checks and trusting your instincts, Wade-Coyle thinks the answer to the problem is education for everyone. For instance, she’d like to see a parenting SOL in public schools and more resources for fathers who are increasingly taking on primary caretaker roles for children.

Wade-Coyle provided this document on how to choose safe care for your child and how to get a background check: Choosing Safe Care for Your Child

Related resource on choosing childcare: http://kidshealth.org/parent/positive/family/child_care.html?tracking=P_RelatedArticle

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