being a mom

The Horrifying Case Of Cassidy Goodison Proves Kids Need Sex Ed

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Cassidy Goodison, a fourteen-year-old child, secretly gave birth in the family bathroom with a pair of scissors and strangled the baby to death before hiding the body in a shoebox. The amount of tragedy in this story has me reeling because it just proves that everyone; parents, doctors, schools, need to be more actively involved in our kid’s sexual education and sexual realities. The GA Daily News reports:

Goodison went into labor in her home in Greenbrier Village, Florida on September 19 and instead of calling for help, disguised her screams of pain by running the tap and gripping a towel between her teeth as she sat on the toilet.

We read terrible stories like this weekly. In the United States we have 750,000 teens who get pregnant every year. Goodson explained the reasoning behind her decision to hide the pregnancy from her parents:

she was motivated to hide her pregnancy and choke the baby ‘to stop him from breathing,’ by the fear that her relationship with her parents would change if they found out the truth.

I don’t have a quote from Cassidy Goodison’s parents, but I’m sure they would give anything at this point to turn back time in order for their own baby not to kill her baby and face being charged with Premeditated First Degree Murder, a capital felony and Aggravated Child Abuse, a first degree felony.* Their baby’s life is over. Their baby’s baby’s life is over

I consider myself a “good mother” because I talk to my kids. I talk to my eldest son about sex and teen pregnancy. My younger kids aren’t quite at the age where I feel I need to worry about birth control but stories like this make me realize it will be a topic I need to discuss with them sooner than I may want to. I’m sure Cassidy Goodison’s mom thought she was a “good mother” too. Every day good mothers have daughters who have unplanned pregnancies. These things happen. We may not want them to. Even under the best good mom circumstances, even if we educate our kids and talk to our kids and have open relationships with our kids. Even if we discuss abstinence or take them at age twelve and get them on birth control. Teen pregnancies still happen. Yes, birth control does protect against unwanted pregnancies but sometimes even extremely effective methods of birth control can fail.

I’m sick and disheartened by stories like Cassidy Goodison’s. I’m sad at all of the young girls who get pregnant who don’t want to be, who get pregnant and haven’t even started their own lives yet. I realize that in some cases these teen pregnancies work out and there are many very young moms in the world who are excellent parents and who realize their potential despite having a child to care for. And there are also cases like Cassidy Goodison. And my heart breaks for her, for her parents, for her dead son.

In a perfect world, none of our kids have sex until they are emotionally, financially, and sexually ready. They have sex filled with fun and love and joy. Sex doesn’t result in abortions, because even though I think abortions should be safe, legal and rare, I don’t want teenagers to go through them. Sex doesn’t result in fear and humiliation and shame and the murder of babies in family bathrooms.

I don’t know how we make our kids stop getting pregnant. I know talking to them, preparing them, educating them,  watching them, policing them, getting all over their asses helps, as well as making sure they have access to safe, reliable birth control. I will do anything to keep my daughter from getting pregnant before she is ready and for my sons not to impregnate anyone before they are ready. I just really hope it’s enough.

*edited/grammar

(Photo: Anna Azimi /Shutterstock)

34 Comments

  1. Carinn Jade

    September 29, 2012 at 11:15 am

    oh my gosh Eve this is utterly heartbreaking. Thank you for bringing it to our attention and reminding us what we can do to help prevent sadness like this. It’s about communication and education.

  2. CW

    September 29, 2012 at 11:54 am

    How could Cassidy’s parents, teachers, etc. not notice that she was pregnant? I can understand being able to hide it at first, but by the last few months wouldn’t it be pretty obvious??? I agree that the whole thing is heartbreaking, but I’m not buying for one second that Cassidy’s parents were a good mom & dad because they seem pretty darn oblivious to me.

    • Justme

      September 29, 2012 at 1:14 pm

      I feel the same way when I see the previews for “I didn’t know I was pregnant” but apparently there’s enough women in similar situations to make an entire series about it. Boggles my mind though.

    • k

      September 29, 2012 at 8:45 pm

      I read the original story. The did all notice yet she managed to continue denying it. I agree it doesn’t add up.

    • CW

      October 1, 2012 at 4:27 pm

      If my kid denied it, I’d drag her kicking and screaming to a doctor for confirmation one way or the other.

    • Eve Vawter

      October 1, 2012 at 4:52 pm

      I would think, I could be wrong, maybe her parents were in denial as well? Ugh, it’s all so so sad, in all regards.

    • maureen

      September 30, 2012 at 4:05 am

      She gave birth 9/19 so her 3rd trimester was over the summer – when school let out in June she was only 6 months along. Still no excuse for the parents not noticing their 14 yr old was about to give birth!

      Hate to say it but I wouldn’t be surprised she was molested by her father, relative, or family friend. It would explain why she is psychologically disturbed and why the parents didn’t do anything.

    • AnGie Mitchell

      October 2, 2012 at 3:54 pm

      I wondered tge very SAME, Maureen! Something is UP with this WHOLE story! im thinking she was raped and theres WAY MORE to this story! WAY, WAY more! Its still sooo horrific all the same and this girl SHOULD be punished…period. But! I think these IGNORANT parents should be punished too!

  3. Sara

    September 29, 2012 at 3:20 pm

    “Safe, legal and rare”. That’s exactly how I think abortion should be, too–well said. There are so many horrible things about this story, I don’t even know where to start.

  4. maureen

    September 30, 2012 at 1:51 am

    I don’t buy for a second that the parents didn’t know she was pregnant.
    The baby was 9.5 lbs, presumably full-term – who doesn’t notice their 14
    year old 100 lb child is 9 months pregnant? And after all her efforts to conceal the pregnancy, she simply left the shoebox in a laundry basket, which her mom quickly found? There is clearly more to this story than we know.

    • Cyndi

      October 1, 2012 at 11:06 am

      A child who could have worn baggy clothes…a good friend of mine has a uterus that sits back into her abdomen. Pre pregnancy she was a size 4, at 9 months pregnant she was an 8, if that’s the case for her at her age gaining a bit of weight may not attract attention. Plus she’s 14 I doubt she walked around naked in front of her parents and if she was hiding a pregnancy likely wasn’t walking around in a bikini. As for hiding the baby, she is only a child who had just given birth and then strangled her child, she likely wasn’t thinking clearly, as most teenagers don’t.

    • maureen

      October 2, 2012 at 4:34 am

      It says in the article that Timothy Goodson, her mom’s husband, noticed the weight gain and suspected she was pregnant. It was summer in Florida but she wore heavy baggy clothes and a blanket draped around her. Poor thing clearly went out of her way to hide it.

  5. Nathalia

    September 30, 2012 at 6:19 am

    I never believed that people could undergo pregnancy without anybody or themselves noticing, but now actually a woman of my aquaintance only realised she was pregnant when she was 8 months along, and she went to the doctors because of “stomach-problems” multiple times and thought she had gained a little weight, a fairly skinny girl too. Her mother didn’t notice, she didn’t notice and not even three different doctors noticed…

  6. megan

    September 30, 2012 at 11:35 am

    “Their babies life is over. Their babies’ baby life is over.”

    Their baby’s life is over. Their baby’s baby’s life is over.

    OR

    Their babies’ lives are over.

    • AllysonLT

      September 30, 2012 at 1:45 pm

      Seriously, Mommyish, please get some editors. This story is absolutely tragic, but the lousy writing jumped out at me, too. They had three tries to get “baby’s” right, and blew it all three times, in three different ways.

    • Eve Vawter

      September 30, 2012 at 3:43 pm

      I fixed it for you. Thanks for pointing it out. I was pretty upset and sad when writing.

    • AllysonLT

      September 30, 2012 at 11:23 pm

      Understood. It would be hard not to be.

  7. Jacki

    October 1, 2012 at 11:09 am

    Horrifying, heartbreaking, and mind-boggling that this young girl felt this was her only option.

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  9. Bran Chesterton

    October 2, 2012 at 9:58 am

    “Some members of the family suspected the teen was pregnant and counseled Teresa Goodson regarding the teen’s changing appearance. During this time, Mrs. Goodson denied her daughter’s pregnancy advising family members that two home pregnancy tests were administered and showed no positive result. Both tests were conducted by the teen, alone and in private, with no parent present in the room at the time, because Mrs. Goodson wanted to protect her daughter’s privacy.”
    http://www.mysuncoast.com/news/state/story/Girl-14-charged-with-killing-newborn-baby/jZFEokfp-0WalwMvg7jBpw.cspx

    Clearly, there’s something wrong here. I hope the investigation will come up with some answers other than blaming this 14 year old child. The majority of our country – especially the South – keeps safe sex a secret, hushing up any talk of prevention or a woman’s options before OR after conception, and then charges a CHILD with a felony for being so scared of her situation that she does something horrifying that she will regret for the rest of her life.

    Is this 14 year old blameless? Certainly not. Is this family, the educational system, and the culture of shaming and absence of information about sex and teen pregnancy to blame? Most definitely.

    • Tara Paisley

      November 20, 2012 at 6:24 pm

      I disagree. A fourteen year old girl has NO business having sex period. There is no mention of the father of the baby. Is he 14, 15? Was she raped? We don’t know these answers. We also don’t know what had been explained to her. One thing is for certain: at 14, you know strangling a baby is wrong. Another problem: There is no way I would give my daughter *privacy* if I suspected she was pregnant. You will take that pregnancy test in my presence.

  10. AnGie Mitchell

    October 2, 2012 at 3:55 pm

    MY thinking? If you go through ALL OF THAT (for NINE MONTHS!) reason being SOLELY (supposedly) to hide the pregnancy…to hide a child…then WHY ON EARTH would you just place the body in a box, in your room, in laundry.. for anyone TO FIND?! DOESNT MAKE ANY SENSE!

    I do NOT believe either, that Cassidy was just fearful of her parents. I think there’s more to THAT also! And HOW in the WORLD was this girl able to conceal this pregnancy that long ANYWAY!? I mean, come on! She carried a 9.5 Lb BABY in a 110 Lb BODY!?! There were signs! There were family members asking this question specifically, and these parents were/are supposedly shocked by it all?! REALLY!?!

    No. No. Nooo, nooo! Theres a WHOLE lot more to this story! I’ll be glad when it all comes out too. Its horrific and SOO heart-breaking. Poor little baby. To die by its’ own mothers’ hands and have NO chance at all! She BEAT him AND strangled him – to DEATH! Wow! WHO can do that…to ANYONE!? Aww….Just SOO sad. I think she SHOULD be charged as an adult. But! I also think too that these parents should be in trouble for negligience! Is there a punishment for ignorance too?! Why even test your daughter TWICE, if you’re not gonna do ALL YOU CAN to see to it the results are accurate!? Makes NO SENSE! Something is UP with this whole family and this story!

    My heart BREAKS for this baby boy. :'( <3 May he R.I.P.

    • AnGie Mitchell

      October 2, 2012 at 4:02 pm

      I ALSO cannot HELP but to wonder if this girl wasnt impregnanted after the event of a rape/molestation, either by the Dad or someone else ‘close’ in relation. IDK why….but my mind just goes TO that theory again and again. Maybe due events of other cases or my own experiences. But theres SO MANY holes in their story, that could be WHY I feel t also.

      Turn up the HEAT! Lets get some answers!

  11. bugbrennan

    October 2, 2012 at 5:30 pm

    Cassidy is a child who cannot consent to sex – that’s rape. What Polk County has done to her is criminal. http://bugbrennan.com/2012/10/02/a-pregnant-14-year-old-raped/

  12. kathleen

    October 2, 2012 at 9:00 pm

    Regarding the title of this story, does anyone actually know that Cassidy did not have access to birth control?

    That aside, there are many disturbing aspect to this story — how old is the father? was she told about birth control? what kind of information did she have about sex? why didn’t anyone take stronger steps with her to determine if she really was pregnant (I mean, if you suspect your daughter might be pregnant, you should take her to an OB/GYN)? But what really bothers me is how does this girl think that deliberately killing her baby is the best solution to her problem? She used scissors to get it out of her and then checked for a pulse. I find this rather horrifying…..

    • AnGie Mitchell

      October 3, 2012 at 10:31 pm

      Exactly! And me too – HORRIFYING! She KNEW what she was doing….and she had NINE MONTHS to think of a better solution too! She knew it was gonna happen…soon enough. She had SO MANY OTHER options. IDK….just heart breaking. And yeah, PARENTS NEED to teach their children, even younger than ever before, that these things CAN happen and that THEY (parents) arent gonna turn their backs;’ on their kids’ no matter what…teach them the options. Teach them about safe sex, etc….

      This could have been prevented….at EVERY SINGLE turn! Sad. And sorry, but she DOES deserve to be punished.

    • wmdkitty

      September 26, 2013 at 12:35 am

      Yeah, let’s punish her for getting raped, that’ll learn her!

      Idiot.

  13. Jen

    October 3, 2012 at 3:42 pm

    The saddest truth to this story is that this young girl killed a baby with her own hands knowing full well what right and wrong are. What people FAIL to realize is that kids are feared by their parents and do not want to seek help fearful of what they will do. Parents need to do THEIR job and educated their children and make the children understand that there are sooo many options available. People are so affraid of pubilc embarrassment, so they “pretend” their kids aren’t doing what they truly are. This is an awful story, but this child, a 14 year old little girl is guilty and should have been able to go to her parents.

  14. Wow

    October 6, 2012 at 1:39 am

    There’s no excuse for what she did. That baby died in a horrible way, and she needs to either do time in prison or a mental hospital. I would never trust her out in the world, around kids who aren’t even related to her.

    • Bran Chesterton

      October 9, 2012 at 5:30 pm

      That’s really sad thinking, Wow. She is a child. She was not old enough to consent to sex at 13 years old. She could have been raped or coerced into sex by someone older. On top of that, she lives in a place that does not support women, or educate them about reproduction. Can you imagine how scared you would have been? Maybe not – it would take a combination of horrific fear and ignorance to do what this girl did… and I hope that no one here has had to experience that.

      To blame this child for what happened and not ask any questions about who impregnated her is a real flip-flop in the law’s application. I hope she finds help to deal with what she did, because she will deal with it for the rest of her life, and I hope whoever ruined her life by getting her pregnant is persecuted. Mostly I hope this will open the South’s eyes to how terrified they are making their daughters by not telling them anything about sex or pregnancy, and hammering at them that it is a sin, it’s dirty, and it is unforgivable. Because THIS is what happens in that culture.

  15. Mark

    October 11, 2012 at 3:37 pm

    the tragedy is that society with all its means induces in young people to have sex and to enjoy life but punishes pregnancy at this age. She killed her baby because she felt ashamed for what had happened. She had to find a solution, she could not talk to anybody at all. So one can say society is guilty as much as she is. Nobody can condemn society but they can condemn a girl for her helplessness. Ask for who is the father of the killed baby, Maybe she was raped and didnt tell either.

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  18. shannon cross

    December 22, 2013 at 2:19 pm

    very well stated and written…thank you, this story is inspiring, I will share it until I know everyone I know has read and shared it! THank you!

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