October is Child Abuse Awareness Month.
The term “shaken baby syndrome” conjures a violent image, but family educators are using a powerful tool to show how little it takes to permanently injure or even kill a baby.
I went to a University of Northern Iowa classroom to see the instructor demonstrate a shaken baby simulator, made by a company called Realityworks.
It was hard to watch.
Family services instructor Julie Pitzen told me that most shaken baby deaths happen within 20 seconds, and many under 10 seconds.
She turned the “on” switch on the doll, which began to cry – just like a real baby.
Then, Pitzen shook the simulator doll for the class.
Immediately, several areas of the doll’s brain lit up – demonstrating damage to crucial areas such as vision, language, motor skills and more.
Then suddenly, the crying stopped – representing a child abuse death.
The class fell silent.
It happenned so fast.
To see the demonstration for yourself, click on the camera icon on this KWWL.com page.
Student Stephanie Babcock said, “It was really shocking to see how easy it was you could shake a baby to the point you could cause it to die. Obviously a 2-month-old can’t tell you ‘that’s hurting me, don’t do that to me.’”
Julie Pitzen (who is also the director of The Family and Children’s Council of Black Hawk County) wants to spread the word that crying is normal.
Crying is part of a baby’s development, and parents shouldn’t take it so personally that they get deeply upset and take it out on the baby.
She teaches the 2:2:2 Rule: Babies’ crying can escalate at 2 weeks, peak at 2 months, and they can cry for 2 to 3 hours a day.
If you need to cool off, change the baby’s diaper, make sure he or she is fed, then place him or her in their crib, dim the lights, and leave the room for a while.
It is never okay to shake a baby.
Their heads are very heavy and their necks are very weak - so there is no protection for their brains.
Pitzen hopes to educate men the most, because in shaken baby cases, 20% occur at the hands of the mother’s boyfriend and 40% by the biological father.
Most of these men have no violent background. Pitzen says men just don’t get the same education through life as women.
Twenty-five percent of shaken baby cases end in death.
Seventy-five percent end in permanent damage, like blindness, mental retardation, cerebral palsy and more.
One hundred percent of shaken babies deal with life-altering effects.
Again, it is never okay to shake a baby.
To learn more about the shaken baby simulator and child abuse prevention, click here.
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This post was written by qni_it on October 28, 2010