Two troubling child abuse cases out of Nicholasville this week led ABC 36 News to a child abuse prevention expert at Kentucky Children's Hospital.
On Monday, Nicholasville police arrested Eric Arthur, 24. He is accused of shaking his 11-week old baby boy to stop him from crying, causing head trauma. On Wednesday, little Varian Arthur was upgraded at UK hospital from critical to serious condition.
On Tuesday, Nicholasville police charged Audrey Rodriguez, 50, with abusing a ten-month old girl she babysat. Those injuries required surgery to repair.
ABC 36 News talked to child abuse prevention expert, Dr. Jaime Pittenger, at Kentucky Children's Hospital. She didn't comment on these specific cases, but did talk about a leading trigger for abuse.
"Infants are most likely to be abused because of crying," said Dr. Pittenger. "It's the number one trigger. It can be very frustrating. Some things that seem easy for everyone else may be difficult to know what to do immediately if you've never been around children or don't know what could happen, like say, you shake a child. Some people don't know that that's bad or that can cause brain injury or permanent neurologic damage in the future."
Dr. Pittenger says warning signs to look for on babies that could be a sign of abuse include bruises before they're mobile.
If you're suspicious, report it. For people in those stressful situations with a child, remove yourself from the environment before you lose control. And Dr. Pittenger says after you've met all your baby's needs, it's okay to let them lay in a crib and cry while you walk away for a short time; check back after you've calmed down.
Remember, child abuse is 100 percent preventable. There are hotlines you can call, and helpful websites. Use them if you need them. Here are two sobering statistics that puts this in perspective: in 2007, Kentucky led the nation in child abuse deaths. In 2010, the most recent year statistics are available, there were 47-thousand reports of child abuse and neglect in Kentucky.