Baby snatch­ers!

Ex­perts say des­per­a­tion and men­tal ill­ness among the fac­tors lead­ing to the ab­duc­tion of chil­dren

Jamaica Gleaner - - NEWS - Car­lene Davis Sun­day Gleaner Writer car­[email protected]­

THE AB­DUC­TION of two ba­bies in less than a week has sparked fresh de­bate about the rea­sons Ja­maicans, mainly women, would want to snatch ba­bies to whiom they did not give birth.

Psy­chi­a­trist and Pro­fes­sor Emer­i­tus of Psy­chi­a­try at the Univer­sity of the West Indies Fred­er­ick Hick­ling ar­gues that the pres­sure so­ci­ety places on women to have chil­dren could be one of the fac­tors.

“There is a cul­tural thing in this coun­try where there are a lot of women who don’t feel com­plete if they don’t have a baby, and, there­fore, they will go to very strange ends to meet those needs that they have,” Hick­ling told The Sun­day Gleaner as he listed men­tal ill­ness as an­other pos­si­ble fac­tor.

“There are cer­tain kinds of men­tal ill­nesses that would make women want to do that kind of stuff. In other words, if they be­come men­tally de­pressed enough, they could at­tempt that kind of sit­u­a­tion. The other rea­son, psy­cho­log­i­cally, is that they have some form of per­son­al­ity dis­or­der, where they don’t have any chil­dren and they just see an op­por­tu­nity and they take it.

“It’s re­ally not some­thing that we should pathol­o­gise. I don’t think we should try and make it into a sick­ness. We have to recog­nise that peo­ple who will do that are in need of some­thing, and that they are pre­pared to steal to get what they want. Clearly, it’s a very cruel act,” added Hick­ling.

Re­spond­ing to claims that per­sons who want a child could al­ways adopt, Hick­ling said that while he en­cour­aged this route, the process could be dif­fi­cult and could turn peo­ple off.

“It’s very com­mon in this cul­ture that a fam­ily will adopt a child within the fam­ily. That has al­ways hap­pened in the Ja­maican en­vi­ron­ment, but there are oc­ca­sions when there are women who don’t have that op­por­tu­nity, and, there­fore, they take mat­ters into their own hands.

“I think they should re­ally ap­ply to the Adop­tion Board and go the le­gal route of try­ing to have a child. The adop­tion process in Ja­maica is dif­fi­cult. In most coun­tries, it’s dif­fi­cult, but it is very dif­fi­cult here. I think the Adop­tion Board should re­ally try to open up the fa­cil­i­ties for adop­tion to take place more read­ily,” said Hick­ling.

He ar­gues that there are many women who just want to have a child, with the most im­por­tant thing in their lives be­ing to have a child.


“So it is not an un­usual thing for a young woman who doesn’t have a child to want to have one, and so I think we need to be more un­der­stand­ing about the prob­lem and un­der­stand­ing about women who want to have this ex­pe­ri­ence,” said Hick­ling.

For psy­chi­a­trist Dr Yvon­nie Bai­ley-David­son, in­fer­til­ity, mis­car­riage, or the death of a child can also push some­one to­wards ab­duct­ing a child.

“She can be in­fer­tile, or the man can be, so the cou­ple doesn’t have chil­dren, and the cou­ple wants chil­dren, so they have an ar­range­ment to steal some­body’s child,” said Bai­ley-David­son.

“For some peo­ple, the mother is des­per­ate to have a baby for her man, and there’s no baby, so she goes and takes one. Also, if the mother her­self lost the baby and she wants a baby to rep­re­sent the one that was lost, then they would also steal a baby,” added Bai­ley-David­son.

She said that de­pend­ing on the mother’s state of mind, it would de­ter­mine how the baby would be treated.

“Some­times, they treat them as their own, and some­times they can get an­gry and frus­trated with the baby and might abuse them. It de­pends on the state of mind they are in,” said Bai­ley-David­son.

On De­cem­ber 10, 2016, a day-old baby was snatched at the Univer­sity Hos­pi­tal of the West Indies. The baby was found five hours later and a woman ar­rested and charged.

The woman, who is 47 years old, later said that she took the baby be­cause she had told her com­mon-law hus­band that she was preg­nant and had given birth and wanted to present him with the baby when he ar­rived from over­seas.

On Fri­day, Jan­uary 4, 2019, a three-week-old baby was ab­ducted from the Corn­wall Re­gional Hos­pi­tal in Mon­tego Bay, St James. That baby was found two days later by the po­lice and a 26-year-old fe­male ar­rested and charged.

In an­other in­ci­dent, a day-old baby was ab­ducted from the Vic­to­ria Ju­bilee Hos­pi­tal in Kingston last Wed­nes­day. Up to press time yes­ter­day, the po­lice were still search­ing for that baby.


Walton Evans (left) kisses the head of his baby girl, be­ing held by De­tec­tive Eulett Lewis in St James, while the child’s mother, Latoya White, looks on af­ter the ab­ducted baby was re­cov­ered by the cops.

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