Editorial: Protecting children

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 1, 2009

This week’s round-table discussion on child well-being in Rowan County would have been timely and important under any circumstances, but the death of a 2-week-old infant only two days earlier gave the event added urgency and relevancy.
While a final report on the infant’s death hasn’t been issued, investigators said the baby boy apparently smothered when the mother rolled over onto it as they were sleeping together. If so, it would be the second recent infant death in Rowan County attributed to co-sleeping, a practice of ongoing debate within medical and parenting groups. While defenders of co-sleeping point to the benefits of mother and child bonding, the deaths here and others across the nation underscore the inherent risks of the practice, and the roundtable discussion, sponsored by the Department of Social Services, helped educate the community about those risks while offering ways to minimize them.
Co-sleeping was one of several topics discussed. Participants also looked at some other vital areas of child well-being, including ways to recognize more subtle signs of child abuse and neglect, as well as examining behavioral changes that can help parents of infants better manage the frustrations that can arise with crying or cranky infants or toddlers.
As a participant noted, infant death is a particularly painful topic, one that has too often been avoided in the past. The roundtable discussion helped raise awareness of the issue while also providing parents and professionals with information that may help prevent future tragedies. While the roundtable was a one-day event, promoting the well-being of children should be an ongoing community mission.