A South Carolina mom has been arrested for suffocating her two children and then pretending they drowned — all apparently a reaction to her own mom's nagging.
According to CNN, twenty-nine-year-old Shaquan Duley of Orangeburg, South Carolina at first claimed she had lost control of her car, causing it to plunge into the Edisto river with her two sons — Ja'van, 1, and Devean, 2 — inside. But her story was riddled with inconsistencies, and under questioning, she admitted that she had actually suffocated the boys with her hands, then put them in the car in an effort to get rid of the bodies. Sheriff Larry Williams says,
She was a mother that was unemployed. She had no means of taking care of her children. She lives with her mother and her mother was a very, I guess, firm individual. ... She often talked with her daughter about, I guess, maybe being more of a mother or being more reliable. [...] I believe she was just fed up with her mother telling her she couldn't take care of the children and she wasn't taking care of her children and she just wanted to be free.
He adds that Duley "has basically been a good mom. For whatever reason, this was her weakest moment." CNN points out that wasn't the first case of a mother killing her kids and pretending they drowned — Susan Smith, also from South Carolina, do the same in 1994. But it may be the first time that a grandmother's nagging has been blamed for the deaths of children. Obviously Shaquan Duley bears the blame for what she did — her mother didn't suffocate the kids. But if it's true that her crimes were a response to her mother's pressure, the case is a reminder of how important a supportive family can be to raising children — and of the drastic consequences a lack of support can have on a parent's mental state.
Probably what Duley really needed before her crimes — in addition to a job — was a psychiatric evaluation. She may have been a good mom, but it's unlikely that she took this step without exhibiting at least a few warning signs. Such evaluation — and the corresponding therapy it may have led to — were probably out of reach for an unemployed single mom, and that in itself is part of the problem. Again, neither desperation nor family pressures are an excuse for murder, and a better mental health safety net isn't going to bring Ja'van and Devean back, or assuage the grief of their 5-year-old sister, who was staying with her grandmother when they were killed. But better mental health treatment, especially for the unemployed, along with more training for families in how to help rather than hinder their loved ones' parenting, might prevent other mothers from doing what Shaquan Daley did.
Image via CNN.