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Citizens in California and in Illinois are mourning the cruel deaths of defenseless infants in their states.

March 12 the Chicago Tribune reported Chicagoan Austin Troy Randolph, 23, had been caring for a 7-week-old baby and to stop the baby from crying, he had shaken the infant and banged its head against a chair. When he realized the baby's arms and legs were stiff and that the child had stopped breathing, he splashed it with cold water to revive it. The child did not survive.

March 29 the Chicago Tribune reported that newborn “Angelita DeOrosi” was found dead of exposure on the cold night of Dec. 3 in Orosi, California. The third of three infants, all born of the same mother and found abandoned every eleven months over the past two years was enveloped in a sweatshirt in the bed of a pickup truck. The coroner concluded she was alive for less than a day.

Can we do more to protect our infants from harm? We think so. One answer is to prepare parents and potential caretakers of infants with the knowledge they need to keep infants in their care safe. All of us are potential caretakers of infants. 80% of us become parents. We must reach everyone before they have vulnerable infants well-being in their sole control.

Childrearing classes for all children while they are in elementary and/or high school could reach all potential caretakers. Some programs exist in Illinois often taught by Family and Consumer Science Teachers.

Children learn about the responsibilities of parenting, child development and caring skills improving their ability to nurture and relate to others. Baby Angelita’s mom might have been able to avoid pregnancy or at least would have learned that her babies could have been brought to a safe haven at a church or fire house. Austin Randolph might have learned ways to sooth the crying baby in his charge.

To responsibly take care of our youngest citizens, lets encourage our legislators and schools to consider adding child rearing classes for their students, most of whom will at some point in their lives need to take care of an infant. More information can be found at www.preparetomorrowsparents.org.

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