The New York Daily News reported today that Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson's two-year-old son is reportedly on life support at a South Dakota hospital. Peterson's son was brutally attacked by his mother's boyfriend in Sioux Falls, S.D., Wednesday evening. Emergency responders found the child unresponsive and rushed him to a local hospital, where doctors found evidence of abuse. Twenty-seven-year-old Joseph Patterson was arrested and charged with aggravated felony assault and battery of an infant.
Why do these horrific tragedies of child abuse at the hand's of a mother's boyfriend keep occurring so frequently? Young children who reside in households with unrelated adults are at exceptionally high risk for inflicted-injury death. Most perpetrators are male, and most are residents of the decedent child's household at the time of injury (Schnitzer & Ewigman, 2005).
In 2008, a Lorain County Children Services (LCCS) caseworker noticed one disturbing and startling factor that consistently appeared in several of the child abuse cases. The children were abused by an unrelated adult and in most cases it was the mother's boyfriend. A committee at LCCS decided to research it further and ultimately developed the "Choose Your Partner Carefully" campaign. The campaign message was refined and the toolkit launched so that any agency or organization could launch their “Choose Your Partner Carefully Campaign”. This campaign that can be used by local, state and national organizations. The objectives of the campaign include:
•Increase awareness among women of the risk their children face when a non-related male is entrusted with their care
•Provide tools to help women better evaluate the likelihood that their paramour could become a perpetrator of abuse
•Educate women to help them recognize potential signs of abuse to their children
•Increase community awareness of the problem and its overall impact on the community