Another death, another reason to remove stigma of mental-health care

By Petula Dvorak
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 2, 2010; 8:17 PM

We leash them, attach wireless alarms to their shoelaces and shadow them on the playground with the tenacity of a Secret Service detail.

Sometime in the past couple of decades, the American childhood has been kidnapped by our country's tremendous fear of strangers.

But statistically, the gravest dangers to young children are right at home.

We learned that again this week with the shocking death of 2-year-old Angelyn Ogdoc.

Angelyn was on a five-story walkway between Tysons Corner Center and one of its parking garages on Monday when her grandmother, who was there with the little girl's parents, suddenly grabbed her and allegedly threw her over the side. Angelyn plummeted 50 feet to the ground and died hours later at a hospital, according to Fairfax County police.

Take a moment to shudder. We all have.

The grandmother, Carmela Dela Rosa, 50, was charged with murder. She was taken into custody right there in the parking garage.

The circumstances of this one are awful. I don't know any parent who hasn't pulled a kid away from a steep drop after shaking off the image of the child falling over. That part of the death was extremely unusual.

But for a family member to be arrested in the case is not.

"Of all children killed under age 5, over 60 percent are killed by parents," said Philip Resnick, who in 1969 created a new classification in American criminal analysis - filicide - when he first studied and catalogued parents killing their children.

"When it's the grandparents, that's called grandfilicide. I have only seen a couple ones myself," Resnick told me.

Sure, grandma is supposed to be all cookies, kittens, needlepoint and hugs. But the stress of helping raise children can wear on grandparents who may already be dealing with other problems, and there are few services available to them, said Jennifer Crawford, a directors at Family Services Inc. in Gaithersburg, which offers mental health, parenting and community services.

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