04/10/07 — McKee to address why parents kill

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McKee to address why parents kill

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on April 10, 2007 1:45 PM

Author and speaker Dr. Geoffrey McKee will conduct a workshop this month to explain why some parents kill their children -- and how to spot the signs before they snap.

A professor at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine, McKee wrote the book, "Why Mothers Kill: A Forensic Psychologist's Casebook." He will present two workshops April 23, one at 8:30 a.m. and the other at 1 p.m., in the Cherry Hospital Conference Center.

Child abuse has reached epidemic proportions in every community in the U.S., said Maj. Calvin Graham, a psychologist at the Life Skills Support Clinic at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base. The base is co-sponsoring the workshops with the Cherry Hospital Foundation, the Mental Health Association in Wayne County and the North Carolina Psychological Association.

"A child is being abused or neglected every 15 minutes in North Carolina alone," Graham said.

The co-sponsors say they hope McKee will provide key trigger points so social workers and teachers will see any changes in the children of abusive parents before it's too late, said Judy Howell, medical education coordinator at Cherry Hospital.

"We feel if we can save one child, we've done our job. We're very concerned, and our hospital is aware what's going on," she said.

Some signs of abuse include acting out in school or running away from home, Graham said. "(Child abuse) is a very complicated issue. Lawyers, social workers ... These cases are so complicated no one person can grasp the complexity alone. We have to work together," he added.

Even the parents involved in child abuse tend not to seek help because of the stigma that surrounds mental health, Mrs. Howell said.

"It doesn't make you crazy. Sometimes you need help, and we have services available," she said.

Another sign of abuse is if a child tells one of his friends he or she doesn't want to live any more.

"You need to ask him, 'Why would you say that?' Kids ask for help in many ways," Mrs. Howell said.

The upcoming workshop is going to be the first of many if the co-sponsors have their way.

Mental health professionals usually have to travel to other places to gain continuing medical education credits to keep their licenses current. Cherry Hospital can provide that training and credits right here, said Mrs. Howell, who has registered 25 people already. The conference center can house 75 participants, she said.

A $35 fee to the Mental Health Association includes breaks and workshop materials. Registration deadline is April 20. For information, call Ms. Howell at 731-3288 or Mental Health Association director Amy Roux at 734-3530.