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January 1, 1973

Slaughter of the Innocents

Author Affiliations

Albuquerque, NM

JAMA. 1973;223(1):82. doi:10.1001/jama.1973.03220010067035

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To the Editor.—  Adelson's article, "The Battering Child" (222:159, 1972) is thought provoking. One theme seems to run through all but one of his case presentations—the absence of adult supervision of the deceased infants and their siblings.

Case 1.—  Mother was gone "several hours." Should a 12-year-old watch over a retarded 8-year-old and two other siblings?

Case 2.—  The babysitter was in the bathroom for "an hour," leaving a 5-year-old in charge!

Case 4.—  The parents were out visiting. Two brothers, aged 5 and 2 years, entered the building. Who was supposed to be supervising?

Case 5.—  A 7-year-old was left in charge of a 6-year-old, a 4-year-old, and the infant who died. Is this proper, even if only for ten minutes?Can you neglect this behavior? Is this not child battering by a grownup, even though he did not physically strike the child? Were these psychologically battered children?It