My heart goes out to this mother and child. We'd like to think that this assault on her child "makes no sense." And no, it doesn't "make sense" in the sense that any child deserves such abuse, and such a lifetime of disabilities. However, the nature of this attack is, sadly, very consistent with everything we know about shaken baby syndrome (also known as abusive head trauma). Most of the attackers are fathers, and many of them are unemployed (e.g. "stay-at-home" dads). Just like dad ROCKY LEE AKNEY, who is now in jail.
In fact, child abuse has skyrocketed during the past recession as unemployed fathers were drafted into infant caretaking. In too many cases, whether for reasons of nature or nurture, these guys just can't handle the responsibilities of a crying baby.
Don't believe it? Check out our post regarding a recent study of child abuse fatalities in Minnesota: 2/3 of the killers were men--fathers and other male caretakers (boyfriends). Shaken baby syndrome was the leading cause of infant fatality. And many of these guys were unemployed and drafted into infant care. In fact, Minnesota CPS is now adding questions about unemployed father caretakers to their risk factor assessments.
Mother of shaken baby: 'Nothing about it makes any sense'
10:02 PM, May 5, 2011
DENVER - There is a beautiful cake, hundreds of balloons and a house full of loved ones. It is a celebration, but it is more complicated than most first birthday parties.
Jasmine is 1 year old. Most people did not expect Jasmine to see this day.
"When she was injured, the doctors told us she probably would not survive the week," Jasmine's mom, Jennifer Schutz, said.
Schutz says this birthday is about celebrating survival.
Jasmine's father, Rocky Lee Ankney, is in jail. The Denver District Attorney has charged him with child abuse resulting in serious bodily injury. Prosecutors say he injured Jasmine when she was 8 weeks old.
Schutz was at work as a geriatric nurse when it happened. Denver Police say Ankney did not call 911, but he called his wife claiming he dropped the baby as he got her out of the bathtub.
Detectives and doctors say Jasmine's injuries could not have been caused by a simple fall. Her ribs were broken. Her brain was bruised and bleeding on both sides of her head. She lost her vision.
"You wouldn't think your husband would do it. He quit his job to stay home with her. Nothing about it makes any sense," Schutz said.
She says he had been loving to her 10-year-old daughter and never shown signs of aggression to her.
Shaken baby syndrome is the leading cause of trauma death in children under 2 years old in Colorado. When Schutz started learning more about it, she made a promise to Jasmine to be part of the solution.
She made adult goody bags for everyone at the birthday party. Every guest left with a colorful bag filled with resources and information about shaken baby syndrome. She hopes their friends will join her in helping to protect other children.
Jasmine can't do what other children her age do. She should be close to taking her first steps and saying her first words, but that may be a long ways off, if it happens at all.
It is a big accomplishment in physical therapy for Jasmine to hold her head up for a few seconds. When she does it, her mom and her therapist cheer: "Look at that big girl holding her head up. Good job!"
Leslie Watson is a pediatric physical therapist. She works with Jasmine three days a week. An occupational therapist comes two days a week.
"Jasmine is 1, but she is not even at a 6-month-old level in the way she functions," Watson said.
Schutz says her daughter isn't sitting up or rolling over yet.
"She is trying to, but she isn't. Maybe one day she will," she said.
The "maybe" is the most difficult part. Schutz doesn't know if she'll ever hear her daughter say "Mom."
Watson works with Jasmine on a big pink therapy ball. She says the progress this year has been slow.
"When you have a baby that was born with all the potential to be all that she can be and then have something horrific happen from someone who is supposed to protect her; that is very difficult," Watson said.
Jasmine survived this year. No one knows what the ones ahead will bring, but Schutz knows one thing for certain: She says she and Jasmine will work to prevent child abuse of any kind for as many years as they have together.