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Sober Reflection | Why Do Some Teens Kill Their Newborns?

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Sober Reflection | Why Do Some Teens Kill Their Newborns? Why do some teens hide the fact that they’ve given birth and, in some cases, harm their newborn babies?


Sober Reflection | Why Do Some Teens Kill Their Newborns?

Police are conducting an investigation after a baby’s body was found in a restroom at High Point High School in Beltsville, Md., on Wednesday.

The baby’s body was discovered after someone alerted a school resource officer, police told local D.C. TV WJLA. The girl who delivered the baby was found and was taken to get medical care, police said. Officials are still trying to find out whether the baby was stillborn.


This isn’t the first time a teenager has secretly delivered a baby and tried to cover it up. A former high school cheerleader was arrested on charges that she killed and buried her newborn baby near her parents’ house in Ohio. Lawyers for Brooke Skylar Richardson argued in an appeals hearing in September that the teen’s baby was stillborn, according to Cincinnati TV WCPO.

In 2016, a custodian found a baby’s body in a women’s restroom at South Houston High School. Surveillance video from the school was used to find the 16-year-old mother, USA Today reports. The girl’s mom said neither she nor her daughter knew the teen was pregnant.

The stories are shocking, but they happen. “In my career of helping teens and families, I have had this situation occur several times,” clinical psychologist John Mayer, PhD, author of Family Fit: Find Your Balance in Life, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “The overriding condition that drives the teen’s behavior is fear — petrifying fear of the consequences of being found out.”

Denial also factors in heavily, Gail Saltz, MD, a psychiatrist and author of The Power of Different, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “The terror of being a child, who is pregnant with a child, can cause that child to be in extreme denial of what is happening,” Saltz says. “The mind is powerful enough to react with the ability to repress or deny what is taking place in the body in reaction to extreme anxiety and fear.”


These teens “tend to use primitive defense mechanisms rather than higher-level coping mechanisms such as using problem-solving techniques and rationalization to work problems out,” Mayer says.

Teens can deny the pregnancy so much that they’re actually “shocked when the baby arrives in a bathroom and try to just run away,” Saltz says. Or a teen may “know she is pregnant but consciously try to hide it from everyone and hope that somehow she can hide it all forever and run away.”

This can happen to any teen, but “the child with less social support, lower self-esteem, anxiety beforehand, depression, and a history of trauma or substance abuse is at greater risk,” Saltz says.


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