Children are at risk when paramours are in the mix.
Paramours. It’s definitely a dated term more appropriately used in a daytime soap opera; however, a paramour is the antiquated and unusual term for a biological parent’s live-in significant other. It’s the term Child Protective Services uses to categorize boyfriends or girlfriends who have no biological or legal ties to the children with whom they are cohabitating, but their presence serves as a pretty obvious warning sign to CPS. Studies show adding a paramour to the equation greatly increases a child’s risk of becoming a victim of abuse and neglect by about 50%.
We’ve stated previously the concerns associated with the hardworking yet struggling CPS departments in each and every state and the cracks our nation’s children are falling into. The situation with paramours is just another issue plaguing the system. Because these unrelated significant others have no real ties to these children and come in and out of the house, they normally aren’t on a CPS worker’s radar.
Richard McTear threw Jasmine Bedwell’s three month old son, Emanuel, out of a moving vehicle on the side of the highway. He had a history of criminal activity—17 previous arrests including charges for kidnapping and child abuse. However, proper background checks were not completed by CPS until it was too late because the focus was initially on the couple’s domestic disputes. A case worker had even encouraged McTear to assist with the child as a way to support Bedwell and strengthen their relationship.
Repeat offenders are hard for CPS to track because, in many cases, they travel from relationship to relationship and home to home. A Florida CPS worker explained, “We knew these men had previous history with CPS, and in some cases violent criminal history, but we did not know that these men were in these homes until the death was reported.”
One reason given by many of the killers of these innocent children is they are in the way or hogging attention. Another excuse is the lack of experience many of these people have with childcare. More than 60% of the perpetrators are under the age of 25.
The reality is that many times, a mother leaves their child with a new or unexperienced boyfriend while she goes to work or out to run errands. It becomes a predicament when a mother can’t afford her bills, let alone daycare, and presumably assumes the child will be safe in the care of her partner. As stated previously, the risk of the child being abused increases. In many cases, many of the paramours charged with these crimes are sexual predators—which is consistent with the finding that over 40% of sexual assaults on children coming at the hands of a known yet unrelated adult. Running out of the house—even just for a minute—could be life-altering for a child who stays back.
With CPS having little to no control over the partners single parents are choosing to let into their homes, who’s really to blame? Is it the criminals themselves or the parent who trusts the well-being of their child with someone who has no interest in the child or their safety or welcomes a known criminal to move in? Allowing dangerous people into the lives of voiceless children is a catalyst to abuse and neglect. The harsh reality is that crimes of ignorance and omission can be just as significant as violent crimes of throwing a baby out of moving vehicle or smothering them in their crib. Didn’t the parent fail to protect? Is the person on trial for the violent crime the only one at fault? Or did society fail the parent?