Friday, January 25, 2008

Novel research can be grim or hopeful. Today - a mix of both

I am the unfortunate recipient of news articles about mothers who kill. Why? At one time, when I was learning about infanticide and its causes for my book, this was depressing research. Now it is merely depressing. The story is almost always the same. Only names and dates are changed.

A mother killed her x-month old child today.

Relatives were stunned and shocked.

Her spouse/boyfriend said he noticed she seemed more withdrawn lately but attributed it to “hormones.”

This is the xth tragedy of its kind in the U.S. this year.

According to the American Anthropological Association, more than 200 women kill their children in the United States each year.

Homicide is the leading cause of death for children under four.

Eleven women are on death row in the United States for killing their children

Today, someone forwarded this article ( ) to me that included one exception: a solution. A solution for those family members who feel helpless about ways to care for a new mother in crisis.

The solution: Crisis Nursery Centers

Here’s what the Sacramento Crisis Nursery center featured in this story says of its organization:

"The Sacramento Crisis Nursery offers a safe haven for children 5 years old and under whose families are facing a crisis. The nursery provides both emergency daytime care and overnight stays for up to 30 days.

Many of the clients who utilize the crisis nursery's services do not have extended family in the region and feel isolated in their situation ... "We think a parent is a hero to children when they can identify that they need support and help," Roy Alexander [Chief Financial Officer of the Sacramento Children's Home] said.

The crisis nursery would like to reach out to new mothers and groups that deal with postpartum depression. "We encourage mothers if they feel like they really have the blues and they're concerned about their ability to continue to take care of their child that they'll call us very quickly," said Alexander.

Can I get an Amen?


For me, I am thrilled today to not only emphasize the need for families to be vigilant in observing and helping mothers suffering from post-partum depression or other illnesses that might cause a mother to harm her child. Today, I can also offer information that might save a life.

Here’s a link to a list of all known centers nationwide. Share it.


Karen Harrington is the author of JANEOLOGY: the story of one man's struggle to understand his wife's sudden descent into madness and murder.

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