~ Campaigns & Special Projects ~
Choose Your Partner Carefully
It happens all too often.
A young, single parent needs someone to watch their young child while they go out. It’s just for an hour or two, and they enlist their boyfriend or girlfriend to care for the child — not considering whether that person has ever taken care of a child, or is prepared for the responsibility.
Choose Your Partner Carefully
Something goes wrong — the baby won’t stop crying, or the toddler has an accident. And, reacting out of frustration, that boyfriend or girlfriend hurts the child, or worse, causes a life-threatening injury.
Over a recent seven-year period, the mother’s boyfriend was found to be responsible for one third of all abuse-related child deaths in Lucas County. Any baby or toddler left in the care of a person not accustomed to dealing with a young child is at risk. They may shake a crying baby, or hit a toddler who has had an accident or made a mess out of simple frustration or not knowing how to respond.
That’s why Lucas County Children Services presents the “Choose Your Partner Carefully” campaign. Our hope is to help young parents think twice before assuming their boyfriends or girlfriends are able to care for their children, and to make the community aware of the potential risk that untrained caregivers pose to every child. If this campaign can keep even one child from being hurt or killed, it will be a success.
When you choose a partner, you’re not just choosing one for yourself. You’re choosing one for your child.
But sometimes, when you’re in love, you don’t see the signs that could tip you off to a dangerous situation for your child.
The first thing to check when thinking about having your partner care for your child is the way your child reacts to him/her. While it’s normal for young children to be upset when mom leaves, look closely at your child’s reaction when being left with your partner. Does your child cry uncontrollably or shake with fear? Is this behavior consistent each time your child is alone with your partner? Has the child started to show new behaviors like bed-wetting, thumb-sucking, being clingier than normal or crying uncontrollably every time you leave the room?
If you see any of these behaviors, think about the potential safety of your child.
Your Partner’s Behavior
There are other questions you should ask yourself about your partner before leaving him/her alone with your child.
Does your partner:
- Get easily irritated or short-tempered when talking to the child?
- Seem immature or have poor impulse control and need constant attention?
- Deliver harsh punishments for minor rule infractions?
- Show anger or impatience when your child cries or throws a tantrum?
- Call your child names or put down your child?
- Think it is funny to scare your child?
- Stop you from bringing your child to his family’s events?
- Make all the decisions for you and your child?
- Say that you are a bad parent and not strict enough?
- Hurt your child and blame you?
- Handle weapons or illegal substances around your child?
- Call your child a nuisance?
If you have answered “yes” to even one of these questions, your child could be at risk.
Do the right thing. Choose your child over your partner.
Could your partner be abusing your child and calling it, “punishment?”
Learn to recognize the difference between punishment and abuse. It could save your child’s life.
Punishment runs the risk of being excessive if…
- The child has a physical injury, such as bruising, broken skin, swelling, marks from an object such as an extension cord or hairbrush, a burn or a situation that requires medical attention.
- The person administering the punishment means to instill fear rather than educate your child.
- The person administering the punishment loses control.
- The action is inappropriate for the child’s age.
- The action results from unreasonable demands or expectations for the child.
When Do I Know if I’ve Gone Too Far?
Ask yourself how you feel about the punishment.
- Do I feel good about this action?
- Is there an important lesson to be taught?
- Does the child know that the person giving the punishment loves him or her?
- Is there mutual respect, or is there fear?
- Are you or your partner behaving in a way you would like your child to behave?
Your child needs to know that you are in charge, but that you love and respect them. They should not fear you or your partner. Talk to your children and decide together on expectations and reasonable consequences for misbehavior.
As a parent, it’s your responsibility to be a role model for your child. If you, yourself, are a victim of abuse, there is a good chance that your child is at risk for abuse, as well. Learn to recognize abuse and take action to protect your child. Always choose your child over your partner.
How Does An Abusive Adult Behave?
Choosing the wrong partner can be — literally — deadly.
No matter how much you think you love your partner and that your partner loves you, no relationship is worth risking your child’s life. Recognize if your partner is an abuser before it affects your child.
Characteristics of abusers include:
- Immaturity, or need for immediate gratification
- A lack of parenting skills, including lack of knowledge about child development
- Poor interpersonal skills, unable to interact with others
- Few relationships with family or friends
- Has difficulty working with others
- Poor self-concept — they consider themselves unlovable or worthless
- Easily frustrated by unmet expectations for kids
- Uses children to meet emotional or physical needs
- Controlling; uses excessive discipline
- Alcohol/drug abuse
- Denies any accusations
- Places the blame on the victim
What is Physical Abuse?
Physical abuse is any intentional, unwanted physical contact with the victim. It includes, but is not limited to:
- Pulling hair
- Throwing items at the victim
- Using a weapon
What is Sexual Abuse?
Sexual abuse is any intentional, unwanted sexual behavior perpetrated on a victim. Examples include, but are not limited to:
- Unwanted kissing or touching
- Unwanted rough or violent sexual activity
- Forcing the victim to go further than they want, even if they have had sex before
- Forcing the victim to touch the perpetrator’s sexual organs
What are Emotional or Verbal Abuse?
Verbal or emotional abuse include anything that the perpetrator says or does to the victim that causes the victim to be afraid, have lowered self-esteem, or that manipulates or controls the victim’s feelings or behavior. Examples include, but are not limited to:
- Intentionally embarrassing the victim in front of other people
- Name-calling or put-downs
- Yelling and screaming
- Preventing the victim from seeing or talking with friends and family
- Telling the victim what to do
- Using online communities or cell phones to control, intimidate or humiliate the victim
- Making the victim feel responsible for the violence
- Threatening to commit suicide in order to manipulate the victim
- Threats of violence, harm or to expose the victim’s private information
- Threats of taking the victim’s child(ren)