Child abuse tied to finances?

I don’t usually become emotional after reading news articles, but I found myself deeply troubled and tearing up over a story I read this week about child abuse.

The article says that the cases of shaken baby syndrome jumped dramatically after the recession began in 2007. The number of children with abusive head traumas went up 55 percent in the months after December 2007 based on a survey of four children’s hospitals.

The article notes that the spike came during a period of rising unemployment, falling home prices and cuts to programs to prevent child abuse.

Of course, no one ever wants to read accounts or see images of children who have been abused, but for some reason this information bothered me more than usual. Perhaps it just seems so unfair that innocent children would be the ones to bear the brunt of their parents’ financial or unemployment problems. Who knows what is really behind the numbers, but it breaks my heart to think of frustrated parents taking out their worries on completely helpless children.

And we’re not talking about a swat on the bum, either. The cases in this survey were serious head traumas with 16 percent of the children dying from their injuries. One little boy was 19 months old and died from blunt head trauma caused when his mother’s boyfriend punched him full force in the face and then shook him vigorously.

I admit that I have a pretty quick temper and often am impatient with my daughter, but I always find ways to take a moment to collect myself and remind myself that she is just a child. When she was little, for example, and my nerves couldn’t take one more second of crying, I would simply leave her in her crib and go sit on my porch. No, that’s not ideal parenting, but it helped me get through rough times without losing my cool.

So I feel sorry for parents who feel they have no other options than to hit or shake their child. I won’t pretend to have any answers here, but I’d like to hear any tips or advice you might have for parents who are going through hard times.

How do you keep your cool with your children when you’re out of patience? How can you stop anger and frustration from escalating to abuse?

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