The Shaken Baby Prevention Project began in 2002 and was borne out of a need to raise awareness of the dangers of shaking a baby. Kids West has been involved since the beginning of the project and provided the initial financial support needed to develop an animated film aimed at increasing the strategies and options available to parents and carers confronted with a crying baby.
The DVD has now been translated into 19 languages, some have been commercially developed into subtitled versions of the film, it has been evaluated through a research trial and shown and discussed at National and International conferences to great acclaim.
The program is now being used in 7 countries and continues to be adopted as a key educational program around the world.
One alarming statistic is that here in NSW, 20% of our own medical professionals (doctors, nurses and associated medical staff) were not acutely aware of the dangers of shaking a baby and did not know how to identify the warning signs of a child at risk of being shaken presenting to emergency wards and medical centres.
This was identified as part of a research thesis that was undertaken by Dr Amanda Stephens (1) who studied a number of cases of shaken babies from initial presentation at emergency wards through to the last known contact with these children. Of the cases studied the results were not only devastating but quite sad as these babies had their lives altered in the worst possible way and they had this happen when they were powerless to stop the damage being done to them.
A brief summary from Dr Stephen’s research paper concluded;
“Research shows that almost every victim of inflicted head injury (‘shaken baby syndrome’ and other forms of abusive head trauma) will suffer some form of brain injury. This results in a range of disabilities with some children wheelchair-bound and completely dependent on caregivers for all their daily needs whilst other others experience academic difficulties. Importantly, even those with no other disability are likely to have problems with cognitive issues causing impulsive behaviour or difficult socialisation.” (2)
More detailed reading on the Shaken Baby Prevention Project (3) can be found here or via this link or by going to the dedicated Kids Health site. A journal exploring the reactions of parents to their crying baby (4) can be found here or via this link.
It is unfortunate that cases of babies being shaken are reported in the news on a regular basis and that the courts are having to deal with the perpetrators because shaking a baby is not only dangerous, it is illegal.
And whilst the physical effects can be horrendous the financial effects on society of a child that requires intensive specialist palliative care 24/7 is often forgotten and can easily be minimised if the message gets out there.
However the positive point is that since the launch of project there has been a decrease in the number of cases being reported which proves that the program works.
To this end, in June 2013 Kids West was recognised as a Platinum Supporter of The Shaken Baby Prevention Project having contributed over $115,000 since its inception as well as providing ongoing support in terms of time and expertise, both which have been invaluable to the projects ongoing success.
Going forward Kids West is now committed to supporting the next phase of the project which has now changed its approach and focuses on the educational message “How to cope with a crying baby”. Kids West’s aim is to get this valuable program included in every maternity ward in Australia so that all first time parents as well as repeat parents get this DVD and associated support material as well as receive the message from midwives during their stay in hospital. Kids West is also wanting to get this program included in the educational syllabus for all medical practitioners and child support professionals in Australia.
Kids West aims to do this calling upon its contacts in parliament, commerce and the medical profession to lobby those government departments and organisations that are responsible for making the decisions to include the program where it is needed. Kids West is committed to doing this one department and one organisation as a time if it needs to.
To do this, Kids West will continue to raise funds specifically for this purpose and in August 2013, thanks to the efforts of EFS Strategic, who raised $11,180 by competing in the City2Surf, they will be able to kick start this next phase of the project.
If you would like to be involved with ensuring that this life saving project becomes the mainstream educational program that it should be please fill out the form on our Volunteer page or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
1 & 2, Stephens, Amanda M. (2011) Legal outcomes in non-accidental head injury (‘shaken baby syndrome’) cases: inevitable inconsistencies? PhD Thesis. The University of Sydney, Australia.
3, Tolliday, Fran; Simons, Martine; Foley, Sue; Benson, Suzanne; Stephens, Amanda and Rose, Donna. From Inspiration to Action: The Shaken Baby Prevention Project in Western Sydney [online]. Communities, Children and Families Australia, Vol. 5, No. 2, Dec 2010: 31-47. [cited 09 Nov 13].
4, Swain, J. E., Kim, P. and Ho, S. S. (2011), Neuroendocrinology of Parental Response to Baby-Cry. Journal of Neuroendocrinology, 23: 1036â€“1041. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2826.2011.02212.x