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Choose Your Partner Carefully

Your child’s life depends on it……

78 % of Child Deaths investigated by Cuyahoga County in 2008 and 2009 were caused by a mother’s partner; often, the boyfriend or step-father of the child.

When choosing your partner, you are not just choosing for yourself. You are choosing for your child, too!  Your partner plays an important role in your child’s life. Choosing the wrong partner can be deadly.

Violence affects children from every income level and race.  Each year, thousands of children end up seriously injured or killed nationally.

No matter how much you may love your partner, no matter what his feelings for you might be…..he may not love your child.

It is important that you know the warning signs. 

Warning Signs

Sometimes, when you are in love, you can miss the warning signs. One of the most important signs to look for is how your child acts when left alone with your partner. Is your child afraid every time you leave? Does he or she cry often? Shake with fear? Has your child begun to show new behaviors like bed-wetting, thumb sucking, being clingy to you, or crying often when you leave the room?

Other questions you should ask yourself. Does your partner:

  • get easily angered or short-tempered when talking to you or your child?
  • demand constant attention?
  • deliver harsh punishment for minor misbehaviors?
  • 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 and your child from attending family events?
  • make all the decisions for you and your child?
  • say you are a bad parent and not strict enough?
  • hurt your child and blame you?
  • handle guns and knives around you or your child?
  • does your partner think your child is a problem?
  • prevent or make it difficult for you and your child to be with friends and family?
  • moved you and your child away from family and friends?

If you have answered yes to even a few of these questions, your child could be at risk. 
Never ignore the warning signs!

Spend time watching your partner with your child before leaving them alone together. Watch the interaction. Make sure your child is comfortable. How does your partner respond to normal child behavior?  If your child is very young, can your partner understand what your child needs?

Be a role model for your child! If your partner is abusing you, there is a chance he will abuse your child.  Learn to recognize abuse and take action to help your child.

If you have to, choose your child over your partner. 

The Facts

Far too often, a child is abused or even killed when left in the care of a mother’s partner, usually a boyfriend (who is typically not the biological father).

In 2005, a study, published in the November issue of Pediatrics, found that children who live with adults who are not biologically related to them are nearly 50 times as likely to die of inflicted injuries as children living with two biological parents.

In 2009, a study, published in the August issue of Pediatrics found that 83% of beating/shaking injuries causing the death of the child were at the hands of mother’s partner.  In more than half of these incidents, he gave a false story to explain the injuries.  Previous abuse was suspected in at least half of these cases.

Why

Many non-biological partners have no relationship or commitment to the child. They are primarily interested in their own romantic involvement with the mother and become irritated when problems with the child arise. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the common circumstances for a child’s death are the child being at home, being alone with the mother’s partner, and crying.

40% of babies born in the United States are born to single women and living arrangements are often casual.  Many of these mothers lack childcare but need to work in order to keep their public assistance benefits.  Instead of seeking a qualified childcare center or person to care for their children, mothers are leaving them with their partner.  Not only do the partners often times have no relationship with the child, they have even less patience and maturity. 

Top 4 Risk Factors Associated with Child Deaths

  1. Family history of domestic violence or child abuse
  2. Gun access
  3. Poverty
  4. History of substance abuse