All forms of abuse and neglect of a child under the age of 18 by a parent, caregiver, or another person in a custodial capacity that results in harm, potential harm, or threat of harm to a child are considered child maltreatment. And while physical abuse is shocking due to the marks it leaves, not all signs of child abuse are as obvious. Ignoring a child’s needs, putting them in unsupervised, dangerous situations, exposing them to sexual situations, or making them feel worthless or stupid are also forms of child abuse and neglect—and they can leave deep, lasting scars on kids.
Regardless of the type of abuse, the result is serious emotional harm.
Now, Police officers in Missouri discovered something far worse cooking in the bedroom when they arrived after being called out to a mobile home on reports that a meth lab was operating inside, as a two-year-old had been left unsupervised in a room with a space heater that lacked a thermostat to turn it off for 38 hours.
Although methamphetamine manufacture is not unknown in Missouri, the call to a trailer park in St. Charles turned up much more than a tweaker’s meth stash. Before it got too hot to ignore, Kathleen Peacock and Lucas Barnes, both in their 20s had a son, Braydon Barnes that had been locked up inside for days with one room of the shabby house turned into an oven.
The two had been up for 38 hours on a meth-making and drug-taking bender when police were called to her home. The mother, Peacock who also happened to be pregnant at the time claimed that she occasionally heard noises coming from the other room of the small house and briefly considered going to check them, but her medicines were too crucial to risk being separated from them.
Peacock and Barnes believed that keeping the kid locked in the room for nearly two days with the space heater on high would be sufficient to keep him cozy so they could do drugs. However, Peacock finally opened the door to the room and found her 2-year-old son, Braydon Barnes, had been cooked to death from the space heater that she left on for him after the sounds stopped.
The absence of a thermostat on the heater caused the room to become an oven as a result of the heater’s inability to turn off when it became too hot. And not only that, the situation was made worse by the fact that the child was badly malnourished after going without food for days, in addition to the authorities discovering that the dilapidated trailer home of horrors had feces and dirt all over it.
It’s alarming to think that the starvation probably would have killed him if the heat didn’t.
This is not the pregnant woman’s first run-in with the authorities, according to CBS St. Louis. She had not even fully settled her child endangerment case from when she was stopped for drunk driving while towing a child when she killed her son. Topped off with an additional drug charge, she and Barnes are looking at 20 years to life for abuse or neglect of a child resulting in death.
Inadequate parenting is such an issue in the state that “crisis nurseries” have been established where parents can leave their kids if they are unable to care for them, feel overwhelmed, or would rather use drugs than are good parents. Peacock and Barnes had access to this, but the centers also depend on those who exhibit even the slightest sense of accountability to take them up on their offer. Their child paid for it with his young life sadly as these parents couldn’t be bothered.
The kids should be taken at the first grossly irresponsible offense. This would ensure the child’s safety and keep them alive, while the parent either self-destructs or gets better. Rather than giving drug addicts chance after chance to choose their children’s well-being over their drugs.