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By Bonnie Juettner

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Extra resources for Child Abuse (Hot Topics)

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These parents may commit acts of abuse without fully realizing what they are doing. For example, in New York City, social worker Marc Parent received a report about a mother who had thrown two of her children out a twenty-third story window. ”10 Most parents who have mental disorders do not abuse their children. But mental illness increases a parent’s risk of committing abuse or neglect. The risk is highest in parents who have been diagnosed with a severe mental illness, such as schizophrenia or major depression.

He writes: Two oddball-looking detectives were working Davey over with the largest, most awkward-looking camera I’d ever seen. It was a tangled monstrosity in three huge pieces that looked more suited for 1930s medical procedures than for taking pictures. It took the two of them to operate it—poorly. They stretched the reluctant Davey prostrate on a white table to photograph close-ups of his ripening bruises. . They’d have Davey freeze in the most impossible display of his injuries as they moved in close with the camera only to find the flash units hadn’t charged.

But mental illness increases a parent’s risk of committing abuse or neglect. The risk is highest in parents who have been diagnosed with a severe mental illness, such as schizophrenia or major depression. Schizophrenia, for example, can cause a person to have hallucinations and delusions and to hear voices. It can make parents confused about their surroundings or about how best to keep their children safe, even if they genuinely love and care for their children. Depression, by contrast, may make parents more likely to neglect their children, simply by making it harder for parents to function normally.

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