A 16 year old Utah teen accused of shaking a baby in his care could be facing child abuse homicide charges after the infant died following being taken off life support.
In his care
The teenager, who is unnamed due to his age was taking care of the 5 month old baby girl and her two year old brother at their home in West Valley City when the baby stopped breathing. The infant was rushed to the hospital where it was determined that she had been shaken by the teenage babysitter. The baby was taken off life support after it was determined her injuries were too severe. She then sadly passed away.
Child abuse homicide
Authorities said the boy was being held on child abuse charges pending a potential change to homicide if the baby ended up not making it. Now that she has died, the charged against the boy could be enhanced to child abuse homicide. Utah Code 76-5-208 states “Criminal homicide constitutes child abuse homicide if, under circumstances not amounting to aggravated murder . . . the actor causes the death of a person under 18 years of age and the death results from child abuse,
(a) if the child abuse is done recklessly. . . [it is a first degree felony];
(b) if the child abuse is done with criminal negligence . . .[it is a second degree felony]:
(c) if, under circumstances not amounting to the type of child abuse homicide described in Subsection [A], the child abuse is done intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, or with criminal negligence . . . .[it is also a second degree felony].”
Know your limits
According to the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome, “SBS/AHT [Shaken Baby Syndrome/Abusive Head Trauma] is the leading cause of physical child abuse deaths in the U.S.” Taking care of an infant or a small child can be very difficult, especially if the baby cries incessantly or behaves contrary to how the person caring for them would want them to. Most caretakers practice soothing techniques and other methods to bring happiness to both the child and the caretaker. Even then, sometimes the crying or unwanted behavior continues. Caretakers are encouraged to know their limits and take the appropriate time and space needed to ensure they can handle the situation with the young child safely and appropriately. Teens who may be dealing with surges and fluctuations of hormones known to cause irritability and even moments of rage should decide whether or not child care is something they should be participating in. Any teens facing charges for grave mistakes regarding children in their care should consult with a juvenile defense attorney immediately.