Calgary Herald

Thursday 7 June 2001

Screams ignored as baby left to die

Police search for mother

Kerry Williamson
Calgary Herald

Mickey Dumont, Calgary Herald / Derek Levinsky leaves the building Wednesday where a baby was found dead. Levinsky's apartment is across from where the baby was found and he remembers hearing it cry.

Child abuse experts are mystified as to how neighbours could ignore a distressed child for several days, and not report it to social services or police.

Police are continuing to investigate the discovery of the body of a 15-month-old boy in a southeast Calgary housing block on Tuesday.

People living in the complex said they heard a baby screaming in an apartment suite for several days, followed by silence.

The screaming stopped about five days before the body was discovered.

Police are treating the case as suspicious and are searching for the mother, who is believed to have moved out of the apartment block.

The head of the city police child abuse unit, staff Sgt. Bob Wiltshire, said people who think a child may be in distress are required by law to report it to social services.

While not prepared to comment on this latest case, Wiltshire said that on very rare occasions, people who did not report possible abuse could face prosecution.

"Any person who believes that something happened or is happening to a child has to report it," he said.

"I don't know why anything was not reported in this case."

"They have a duty when they have a reason to believe a child is in need of child or family services. It should be reported if people hear a child crying for a period of time, or hear a child in distress."

Linda Anderson, Alberta Children's Hospital child abuse service co-ordinator, said she was saddened to hear people had heard the baby crying but had not done anything about it.

"People said this child cried all the time," she said.

"Was there anything reported, anything done?"

"This is a community rich in resources but people need to be put in touch with those resources. That this may not have happened here is really unfortunate.

"They could have helped find someone who could have offered support. To have left it, and to have this as the end result, it's very sad."

Anderson said there are many cases of parents struggling to cope with the pressures of parenthood, but few end in such tragic circumstances.

"This wasn't a really young baby. There was one and a half years of a relationship, of attachment, of bonding that went on. This is a pretty sad affair."

She said support services were in place to help struggling parents, services that could have prevented the 15-month-old baby's death.

Anderson said help is also available for the mother at the centre of the police search, if she turns herself in.

"For her to come forward, there is help there for her."

Copyright © 2001 CanWest Interactive