After Man’s Arrest For Involuntary Manslaughter, You’ll Think Twice About Hugging A Baby
There are so many things that bother me about this case reported by The Daily Mail this morning involving a 27-year-old South Carolina man that has been charged with involuntary manslaughter due to claims he hugged a 14-month old baby so hard that he stopped breathing. According to the article, Robert Kemp was hanging out with the baby, Jaylen Harris, and playing with him until the baby started rubbing his eyes and looked tired. He put the toddler in the crib on his back, went to the kitchen to clean it, and went back in the room to check on Jaylen a while later. He found the baby unconscious with his hands balled into fists. Another person in the home at the time attempted to perform CPR on the baby but he could not be resuscitated. An arrest warrant said Kemp killed the child ‘by giving him a bear hug, squeezing the victim so tight that the victim stopped breathing as a result.’
The death of the toddler happened a year ago and Kemp was not charged until now, and If convicted, Kemp faces up to five years in prison.
Not to get all Nancy Grace about this, but I think most adults know that toddlers are delicate things and you have to be careful around them. On the other hand, the idea that you could hug a child so hard that it causes asphyxiation flabbergasts me, because I truly don’t think anyone hugging a kid does so with any malicious intent. I know that hugs can become violent on playgrounds between kids as a form of roughhousing but I have never heard of a case like this involving an adult and a child. I think back to how many times I grabbed my own kids and gave them a huge hug and said “I’m going to squeeze you to pieces!” as a joke and maybe it was dangerous.
This story is so sad to me because not only did this family lose their baby, I’m sure Kemp, if he didn’t mean any malicious intent (and at this point, it’s hard for me to wrap my mind around him knowing his hug could kill the baby) feels so beyond horrible right now I can’t even fathom it. This poor family. Kemp has been released on a $10,000 bond.
I know we don’t know all the details in this case yet and sure, we could find out that Kemp was violent or knew what he was doing, but for now this just sounds like a horrible fluke accident that resulted in the death of a child and could possibly result in something new parents have to be freaked out about. Most of us know not to throw babies up in the air, or wrestle with them too hard, or jostle them too roughly, but now we can add a reminder that toddlers and babies should only be hugged very gently to that list.
The family had created a donation page to help pay for Jaylen’s funeral expenses that has since ceased accepting donations. I feel so awful for this family.