In the past three months, four young children have been killed in and around Toledo. In each case, a father figure was arrested and charged with murder. The rise in child homicides, particularly those involving parental figures, has been noticed by medical and law enforcement professionals, reports the Toledo Blade. “Especially in this area, but really all over the country, we have seen an uptick in child death and abuse of children,” said Aimee Drescher, a clinical psychologist with Mercy Health. “There is so much more stress in our world right now in the last couple of years that is parents and adults have not developed coping skills or frustration tolerance to deal with their own emotions, it comes out on the kids.”
The pandemic had a lot to do with that. Not only did it isolate children and their families from the rest of the world, but it made everyday stress run high, and often made pre-existing mental health issues more severe. “Because of the way that these crimes are usually reported, COVID stifled a lot of it, and the abuse was probably taking place without being reported,” said Capt. Matt Luettke of the Lucas County Sheriff’s Office. “Kids weren’t going to school, so the people from outside the house that saw that abuse weren’t present,” he said. “Some of the mechanisms by which we would’ve found that abuse were not there.” Luettke said that in many child homicide cases, a parent or relative will admit to the crime relatively quickly. When a child goes into a doctor’s office or hospital with a suspicious injury, health professionals are mandated to report it to law enforcement. Captain Luettke will then send a detective out to take a report, as well as look through previous medical records. He says, "We can see if there's a history of injuries, like broken bones that have healed that went unreported or other signs of past abuse." The Ohio Domestic Violence Network’s annual domestic violence fatality report showed a record-breaking 22 children killed in alleged incidents of domestic violence between July 2021, and June 2022. In the same period the previous year, 15 children were killed, a bigger jump from four children killed between 2019 and 2020.