BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - The recent story of a 16-year-old boy charged with murdering his girlfriend's 1-year-old child, who was left in his care at a home in Springville, echoes several similar cases.
Stefan Perkowski is Program Director of Child & Adolescent Treatment Services, and has seen these types of cases before.
"Generally it's frustration and very narrowed thinking," he said.
Dylan Schumaker, 16, was charged Wednesday with the murder of his girlfriend's 1-year-old, who he was watching. Authorities say Schumaker beat the child to death with his fists.
Just two weeks ago, 30-year-old Justin Crouse was charged with murdering his girlfriend's toddler in the Town of Brant, also by striking the child.
And two months before that, 28-year-old David Alfonso allegedlyviolently assaulted the 7-year-old daughter of his girlfriend in Lockport.
Aside from the physical assaults, all three cases share another trait: the accused are not the actual fathers of the children.
While not addressing any of the cases specifically, Perkowski sees why things like this can happen.
"Many of these individuals don't have strong emotional ties to the children, so that inhibition, that desire to want to care for the child is dramatically reduced for them and their frustration tolerance tends to be low," Perkowski said. "The stronger the bond, the less likely there'll be the frustration that leads to an unfortunate outcome."
Erie County Sheriff Tim Howard urged, "If any caregiver finds themselves losing control, reach out to a family member, to clergy, call police if necessary. There's a direct phone number for Crisis Services: 716-834-3131 or just dial 911."
Perkowski's programs are being implemented in Buffalo schools, including the "Baby Think It Over" program, where students bring home a mechanical baby for the weekend.
"It's very real for you, so that the youngster has to actually deal with the interruptions of routine," Perkowski explained.
Another program is called "Coping Power." Perkowski said, "It's an evidence-based program where we help kids deal with anger and frustration so instead of acting it out, you can talk it out, think it out, find others to help you through it."
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