Another baby died while "co-sleeping" during the early hours of January 7th in Milwaukee . According to news reports, the six day old infant was sleeping on a couch with his mother. Mom, who had been drinking vodka since noon and taken a painkiller before "falling asleep" rolled over and smothered the infant. Supposedly "dad" even woke mom up once during the evening to feed the little boy, but "mom" didn't remember that...
Sad, disgusting, and totally preventable.
Already the first "co-sleeping" incident for 2013 in the area. How many more will happen? Are we headed towards another year of double-digit infant deaths due to "co-sleeping" like last year? Sure looks that way - especially after the limp-wristed response from the bury-my-head-in-the-sand Mayor of Milwaukee, Tom Barrett.
Barrett was on a WTMJ AM620 afternoon news show, discussing this recent incident. The host gave Barrett several opportunities to address this issue by going the legal route - make "co-sleeping" that results in death a "criminal act" - punishable by jail time. Use the threat of jail time to establish the "fear of prosecution" - something that may cause some individuals not to risk co-sleeping for fear of being sent to the slammer. When asked (twice) about the possibility of "criminalizing" the co-sleeping act which results in death, Barrett said that he is focused on "keeping at it" - by educating people on the dangers of co-sleeping. Barrett said the message "has to be delivered over and over..." We have to "keep advertising" on the dangers "just like McDonalds or Coke does." We have to tell people that they should not sleep with their infants if they are "overtired," "on medication," or (I love this one) have used a "substance that impairs their alertness." (Think that translates into "drunk" and/or "stoned?" Mr. Mayor? How come you can't call it what it is?) Barrett eventually deflected the "criminalization" questions away from himself, saying the "fear of prosecution" avenue may be better served by the Milwaukee District Attorney.
We should not continue to sugar-coat these horrific deaths as "accidents." When parents drive drunk with their children in the car - they can be arrested for drunken driving AND child endangerment. What is the difference when a parent uses their body as a weapon when drunk and/or stoned and smothers their child when passed out? (Even if a parent is NOT drunk or stoned, they do not know what they do when they sleep and the infant they are sleeping with is always at risk of being smothered or crushed.) Isn't that "child endangerment?"
We must stop allowing this type of behavior - resulting in infant deaths - to keep happening. All the education, free cribs, and advertising in the world will do nothing to stop many of these individuals who are ill-equipped to be a "parent" in the first place. What is needed is the threat of jail or prison based upon the conditions surrounding infant co-sleeping deaths. Start sending people to the slammer for their negligent and irresponsible behavior for "co-sleeping" and others in the community MAY take notice.
How many weeks...or days... before the next "co-sleeping" death?