A mother from Memphis, Tennessee, has been arrested after authorities found evidence of child abuse in the form of neglect.
Thirty-two-year-old mother Andrea Caldwell was arrested on Friday, Dec. 8, after the Department of Children Services (DCS) discovered her 6-year-old son only weighed 13 pounds, NBC affiliate WRCB reported.
The average weight of a 6-year-old should be around 50 pounds, according to BabyCenter, a pregnancy and parenting media company.
Caldwell was charged with aggravated child abuse and neglect. As of writing on Friday, authorities have not yet revealed how long her prison sentence is.
Her son was born with several developmental disabilities and requires a GI/feeding tube in order to get fed.
Officials made the discovery after an employee with the department visited the boy. The unnamed employee told police that DCS had been searching for the boy since May after his mother failed to bring him to 13 scheduled doctor appointments since April, CBS affiliate WREG reported.
The employee tracked down the family’s location in a Summer Avenue motel where the boy’s condition was “downright alarming,” according to WREG.
The 6-year-old had bruises and bed sores on his body, matted hair and also smelled of urine. To top it off, the mother was feeding him baby formula, after his feeding tube became so dirty that it had become clogged.
Authorities said that the mother was receiving free nutritional materials from social services, but did not use them.
Due to malnutrition, the boy’s weight was dangerously low when the DCS found him. The boy had lost 30 pounds since he last visited a physician back in March.
But some family members disagree with the charges against the mother.
“I just don’t understand why this is happening,” the boy’s aunt Angela Caldwell, told WRCB. “She’s took very good care of him since he was born.”
Caldwell’s family claims that doctors at the Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital did not properly inform them when the boy started losing weight.
“We had him at Le Bonheur in November saying he could not keep his food and stuff and they told us to just keep doing what we were doing,” grandmother June Caldwell told WRCB.
The family members also claim that they were unaware that the DCS had been searching for them since May.
According to WREG, both the 6-year-old and his 4-year-old brother are now safe.
Another mother, Stacie Broussard, who had been staying at the same motel, said she was shocked when she heard the news: “I don’t like that at all,” she told WREG.
She said she may have seen the mother with police cars in the parking lot. Broussard, a mother of four, said she could never imagine someone treating a child in that manner.
“No, no. That’s crazy!” she told WREG, adding, “There is no excuse for that.”
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