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Mother's rage casts shadows
on parenthood - Johnny Jackson

Maybe the family was in a bad situation, and she felt like it was her only out. Perhaps, she believed she could protect them from the world by killing them.

She is suspected of having murdered her two infant children in a spontaneous fit of rage. The 22-year-old, Jeanette Michelle Hawes, was reportedly charged with two counts of murder and possession of a knife.

Her two children, a one-year-old and a three-year-old, were stabbed to death inside an Augusta convenience store restroom.

From the outside, it certainly looks like yet another appalling case of child abuse to the extreme - another case in which a mother should not have had custody of her own children.

I can surely name a dozen such incidents in which child abuse may be related to the possible psychoses of parents.

In Hawes's case, she is young. And that may have contributed to the circumstances of her children's death. But there are other cases of established families, with mature parents, who cannot deal with the pressures of raising children.

They play the "house" roles seemingly normally. But somewhere, deep inside, the pressure builds. The stress of managing and raising another individual confounds them until, one day, they explode.

It's a sort of a depression-frustration-rage borne of resentment, annoyance, or whatever else moves even the best parent to act irrationally in difficult times.

When we hear about such cases in the news, where a mother allegedly physically abuses her child, we begin to wonder how people can be capable of such acts.

But many parents need to wonder, too, if they, themselves, aren't, somehow, softly abusing their children. For those same stresses - resentment, annoyance and the like - are, indeed, the cause of an untold amount of long-lasting emotional abuse suffered by children every day.

That type of emotional abuse, or bullying, is not often publicized, though, simply because the effects are not readily visible. However, in the long run, the effects may well lead to generations of physical abuse that we see reflected in front-page headlines.

Hawes -- if she did, indeed, commit this crime -- may have wielded the knife, but I'm sure she is not the only one who shares responsibility for what happened.

Perhaps, she shouldn't have conceived her children in the first place. Alas, that is a story for another day.

Johnny Jackson is the education reporter for the Daily Herald. He can be reached at jjackson@henryherald.com or at (770) 957-9161.