Far too often, innocent children are abused and/or intentionally killed by those they or their parents know, love, and trust. Statistics show that abuse is more commonly committed by someone the child/family knows than by strangers.
The case is no different in the recent, tragic death of a two year old, reported to be the son of football player, Adrian Peterson. The two year old boy was reportedly left in the care of his mother’s boyfriend, Robert Patterson, “for a short period of time.” During that timeframe, Patterson called 911 reporting that the child was choking. When first responders arrived, the child was then rushed to the hospital, in critical condition, where it was shortly discovered that the child received severe head injuries that appeared to be no accident. Patterson was then arrested and charged with aggravated assault. Two days later, the child passed away as a result of the injuries.
It was reported that the child’s mother had recently began dating Patterson and moved in with him. While not much more details related to the relationship between Patterson, the child’s mother, and Peterson have not been officially released, we are yet presented with a serious lesson, even though we just have the surface of the details available.
The most important lesson here is to know and watch who you have around your children, and specifically who you allow to care for them.
This is an area that I work on vastly with my coaching clients. It is inevitable that when a child’s parents are separated one or both of them will eventually meet someone who may ultimately become a part of the child’s life. For this reason, this is such an important area of interest that must be addressed in effort to prevent tragedies such as this one from happening.
While one can never be absolutely certain that anyone they trust to care for their child will not lose control and cause harm to them, one can be proactive to at least be able to detect red flags and exercise extra precaution if any are detected.
When you first start dating someone and connect with them, many things can seem right: You have chemistry, you get along so well, you have similar interests, you have the same life goals, etc. But what happens when things seem right, but in fact they aren’t?-unexpected things happen.
When you have a child, you can’t risk that unexpected things could happen, especially if you would’ve detected red flags which would have raised the possibility that those unexpected things could actually be expected.
In this case, Patterson allegedly was no stranger to domestic conflict. Reportedly, Patterson previously had two year-long sentences suspended in two prior domestic cases – one for the simple assault case and another for violating an order to stay away from the victim in that case.
Court records show that Patterson has a son with another woman who at one point had asked for protection orders twice, claiming he’d choked and punched her, threatened her with a knife and held her in the bedroom against her will. Patterson was charged with simple assault against the mother and ordered to take family violence classes. Another woman had also applied for a protection order against Patterson in 2004.
Would knowing information like this about someone you are dating ensure that nothing bad will happen? No…but it would definitely raise red flags to put you on notice. While it’s nice to think that everyone you encounter is not a crazy, out of control, violent person who would harm your child, the fact of the matter is: they might be!
Be careful who you allow around your children and to care for your children. Watch the person carefully as they interact with your child in your presence. Watch your child’s demeanor when they are around the person. Be aware!
Know who you have around your children, especially if you’re leaving them alone with them. Everyone doesn’t have your child’s best interest at heart. Everyone is not going to use the same standard of care that you do. Everyone wasn’t raised in a home where abuse was unheard of. Everyone doesn’t have patience that is required to take care of children. Everyone doesn’t even like children! Be as aware as possible of the person’s past.
Am I telling you that you should do an extensive background check on them? Maybe! If you don’t know much about them, then why not?
When you are seeking a new childcare provider you would likely only take your child to someone that is referred by a trusted source or a licensed provider who has passed background screenings and met other prerequisites required by law. Why would you treat a dating situation any different? Especially if you plan to live with this person, with your child.
The prior charges and arrest records in this case would’ve been more than enough to at minimum give you red flags that something just might not be right about this guy. It could’ve lead to the answers to many important questions such as: did he follow thru with the violence classes? Have there been any other incidents? Did he get the help he needs? Has he truly changed?
Really knowing something like this about the next man or woman you date may just save your child!
For more tips on how to live successfully in a divided family, check out my book, The Business of Co-Parenting
For more details on this case, click here.