Burning Is Not Discipline

bathtubJust yesterday reports surfaced about a caregiver who caused scalding to a two year old, leaving the infant with first and second degree burns that went untreated for days. This report didn’t happen in California or New York but very close- in Racine.

This report states that, “When officers asked to see the little girl, they noticed immediately the child’s foot “had what appeared to be severe burns on it.” Officers say the child was whimpering and crying, her legs and feet “were bleeding and had skin peeling off of them.” Rescue personnel were immediately called to the residence.”

Unfortunately, we at CASA know that burn/scalding injuries are not an uncommon reason for children to enter the juvenile abuse/neglect system. Another case, this one from Lebanon, OH, has recently made headlines when a stepmother burned her stepson to death in the bath.

Even after physically healing, which can take some time with severe burns, there is a lasting impact on children who suffer and survive burning. This article states that, “Burned skin doesn’t stretch like normal skin. A serious scald will require extensive treatment – often involving skin grafts – and rehabilitation. But its impact will be felt for years to come. Here’s an example that may not have occurred to parents: Burned skin doesn’t stretch like normal skin. Obviously the skin will be scarred. But it’s when the child gets older, grows bigger and reaches puberty that this becomes a problem and can require further treatment and surgery. For girls who’ve sustained a serious scald to their upper body, this can be especially difficult when they start to develop breasts.

As well as the physical impact, a serious injury can have a devastating psychological impact later in life as children become self-conscious. Last year we wrote about Lizzie – scalded in a bath when she was a toddler – who bravely addressed our burns and scalds conference. She spoke candidly about how her confidence had been affected.

Lizzie told us:

“I may look and sound like a normal happy teenager but I am not. I can’t be the same, and I never will. Some people can just take in the fact they’re burnt and they (the scars) will never go away but my mind won’t let me accept them, I hate them.”

How do providers tell the difference between accidental and intended burns? (Please be warned that if you click on the following link there are graphic, realistic representations of burn injuries inflicted upon minors) This source states that, “The most common inflicted scald burn, by contrast, is when a small child is held in a “jackknife” posture and forcibly immersed in a sink or bathtub partly full of very hot water. These burns are typically symmetrical with severe involvement of the buttocks, perineum, and feet, along with sparing of the knees and nearby areas of the legs. There are typically few or no splash marks, and there is a usually well-demarcated “high-water” mark on the ankles or lower legs.”

If you notice a minor displaying any of those injuries immediately call both your local police and the child abuse hotline at 800-252-2873.

 

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