It’s upsetting that we can barely get through a full month without hearing another story of a mother who has abused her child. The latest I heard of today is the case of 18-year-old Shantaniqua Nykole Scott, a Texas mom who tried to smother her baby to death while in a hospital.
Scott gave birth to a son, Rhaidyn, in March 2010. In July of that year, the baby had to be flown from a Waco hospital to a Fort Worth hospital for a recurring, gastroesophageal reflux which caused him to stop breathing. Doctors soon suspected child abuse and asked for a video monitor was placed in his room. Soon after Scott tried to smother her infant son with a blanket and her own hand. When the breathing monitor alarms went off signaling that the baby had stopped breathing, nurses rushed into the room and saved the little Rhaidyn’s life. The whole scene was caught on videotape.
This past week, the video was played for jurors who would determine if Scott should face life behind bars. In closing arguments, the defense attorney in the case said one phrase that immediately enraged me and was incredibly demeaning to young mothers everywhere.
The Star-Telegram reports:
In his closing arguments Thursday morning, defense attorney David Jones argued that Scott did not cause any serious injuries to her baby when she tried to smother him at the hospital. There was no justification for what Scott did, Jones said. “She had no business having a baby at her age,” he said. “But what where the injuries? You didn’t hear of any injuries.”
Age. Really? He is arguing that because she was 18, she “had no business being a mother”, implying that an 18-year-old was not only incapable of caring for a newborn, but would likely abuse a baby simply because she was young. Is he serious? Equally infuriating, he tried to argue that because the baby had no sustainable injuries from being nearly smothered by his own mother, she should be found innocent.
Excuse me, Mr. Jones, but there are countless teen and young mothers who raise their babies lovingly, who would never even consider harming a hair on their child’s head, and have produced stable, successful, awesome adults. Barrack Obama’s mother, Ann Dunham is just one of them. She gave birth to our President when she was 18 years old.
I am another one. I had my first daughter shortly before I turned 20. I have listened to a lot of horrible, disparaging remarks about young mothers over the years, but this one surely takes the cake. Being expected to abuse your child because you are young is outrageous and maddening. Every other month or so it seems, unfortunately, we hear about another thirty-something or forty-something mother who has abused her child. Evil, mental illness, and postpartum depression can be found at any age.
I know countless young moms that are wonderful mothers, who sacrifice for their child just as much as any older mother would, who want only the best for their child and work damned hard to provide it. To demean a mother because she is young is just as discriminatory as putting down older mothers or disabled mothers. Yes, young motherhood can be difficult, but parenting is always challenging at any age. You would expect an attorney to know that.