January 8, 2013
Questions abound relating to discovery of baby in garbage bin

Tue Jan 08, 2013

Up to press time, the cause of death of the male child discovered last week in a garbage bin, by a homeless man, was still unknown.

According to senior police officials, since it is not known if the child was alive at birth, the only charge that may be brought against the person or persons responsible for the act, at this time, is concealment of birth.{{more}}

While there is a public outcry against what seems to be the abandonment of a helpless infant, there is also a call for persons to reserve judgment until the details of the case, including the age and mental state of the mother, are known.

Under what circumstances would a mother wrap her newborn child in cloth, then a plastic bag, and place that bag in a garbage receptacle at an abandoned site? Something would have to be seriously wrong, as this is unnatural behaviour.

The phrase ‘post-partum depression’ a medical condition which affects women, and to a lesser degree men, quickly comes to mind. Persons affected by PPD as it is sometimes called, display symptoms ranging from sadness, hopelessness, guilt, low self-esteem, increased anxiety or panic attacks; and in some cases, they may also be afraid to be alone with the baby, they may show little interest, or have negative feelings towards the child, or even think about harming their child. The symptoms, which can appear a few weeks after childbirth, can last for a few months to a year in some cases. These parents are usually affected by a number of social and emotional issues, which would make it difficult or practically impossible to care for themselves or the child.

Or could it be a case where out of fear, a young mother who had also concealed the pregnancy, panicked when she gave birth? Of course, this is not the first time that a baby is found disposed of in such a manner in this country. There have also been cases where infants have been killed by their mothers. Just last year, a teenage mother was charged in relation to the death of her one-year-old child.

There are, however, still so many questions with which we are left: Was the baby stillborn? Who and where are the parents? What drove the mother to take such a drastic step? What can be done to prevent, as far as possible, future occurrences of child abandonment and (possible) infanticide?

While it is not up to us to pass judgment on one another, we cannot overlook the seriousness of this incident. The message must go out that our society takes seriously its responsibilty to protect the vulnerable among us, and provides alternatives for mothers who feel incapable of looking after their children.

We hope the police are able to solve this crime, not to satisfy the curiousty of the masses, but so that the mother is provided with the help she obviously needs and so that we can all learn from this situation and devise means of reducing the probability of such occurences in the future.