Mayor Michael Bloomberg along with legendary rapper Darryl McDaniels and Simpson’s star Julie Kavner gathered to launch an education campaign today, urging New York parents to be cautious when leaving children with caregivers -- even family.
The “Be Careful Who Cares for Your Child” program is a radio and poster campaign created in response to a number of recent child fatalities in New York City. All the attacks allegedly happened at the hands of a person the mother considered a trusted adult.
The announcement was made at Safe Horizon; a child advocacy center that provides comprehensive and coordinated investigation and services under one roof to physically and sexually abused children and their families.
“Very few people believe that someone they love or trust could ever hurt their child. But sadly, it happens,” said Mayor Bloomberg.
Since January, nine children under the age of two have been killed while left in the care of their fathers, their mothers’ companions, or a babysitter. In 2009, there were only three such fatalities in New York City, according to an Administration for Children's Services report.
“The fragility of a small child cannot be emphasized enough. Yet, there have been a frightening number of incidents in Queens County within recent months in which a caregiver has been criminally charged with violently assaulting or even killing a child – the vast majority of whom were under the age of two,” said Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.
The campaign’s focus is to inform parents about the importance of using extreme caution when choosing a babysitter or other caregiver.
“Choosing an appropriate caregiver is one of the most important decisions a parent can make – and just because someone is a relative or close friend does not mean they are capable of taking care of a child,” said the mayor.
It will also seek to teach parents the warning signs that identify someone who may not have the patience or experience to deal with a crying or fussy baby.
“Inexperienced or ill-suited caregivers, which can sometimes include fathers and mothers’ companions, can react violently when a child won’t stop crying,” said Administration for Children’s Services Commissioner John Mattingly.
“This is an important campaign that the Mayor is launching, said Darryl McDaniels. “I am honored to be a part of it. Anything I can do to help protect our children, I’m grateful to do.”
McDaniels and Kavner will do the initial batch of adds which will be joined by adds voiced by Messeret Stroman, an actor that has appeared in regional and off-Broadway theatrical productions, and Spanish language adds will be voiced by Jazmín Caratini, a popular Puerto Rican actor.
To complement the radio campaign, a citywide poster campaign is also being launched. The posters will appear as subway ads, in barber shops, beauty salons, bodegas, grocery stores, high schools, colleges, libraries, hospitals and prenatal clinics beginning in August.
“Caring for a crying baby is not easy. And as a parent, I understand how challenging it can be to find a good babysitter,” said Deputy Mayor Linda Gibbs.
She also encourage all parents who need help identifying appropriate childcare to call 311.
Parents and other caregivers who are interested in learning more about how to safely care for a child can call 311 and request copies of the City’s child safety brochures and DVDs.
If you suspect a case of abuse or neglect contact the state’s child abuse hotline, the New York State Central Register (SCR) of Child Abuse and Maltreatment, (800) 635-1522.
Other New Yorkers who suspect that they, or someone they know, may be suffering from child abuse or neglect should call 311 and ask to be connected to the state’s child abuse hotline.
“When it comes to your child’s safety, you can never be too careful,” New York City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn said.