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Abandoned Infants

My busy morning was interrupted by a detective who called to tell me of yet another infant abandonment just hours after birth. He asked several questions, struggling to understand the case that he was investigating. He wanted a possible profile or description of a woman who abandons. He described, too graphically, the fresh-born infant, blood not yet coagulated, left in a dumpster, with a rope around the neck--strangled. He said he’d worked homicide many years and had seen everything, but this was the worst.

We were in conversation when a reporter from the Associated Press called. I referred the detective to a psychiatrist in our organization. The reporter wanted my comments on the same case. I didn’t have the words or the ability to express the solemnity of that event.

I asked her: How do you describe what can be an estimated 5,000 women/parents who abandon their infants and children each year? Deeply troubled addicts, prostitutes, poor, middle class, white, young, black, old, homeless, unwanted themselves, abandoned. Please, I said, what you must write about is the greater tragedy. This could have been prevented.

I am mad that detectives and editors have become the shock jocks of child abuse stories, telling only when these events take on a seemingly aberrant twist, such as an infant abandoned on an airliner or found with a rope around the neck. Their fervor to catch a commercially valuable headline or a criminal to punish is sad. Where is their fervor to help the thousands of women in crisis today who won’t be helped and will abandon another infant tomorrow?

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SALLY NAVA KANAREK

Executive director, Parent Help U.S.A.


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