Shaken Baby Syndrome Awareness & Prevention
Also known as Abusive Head Trauma or Traumatic Brain Injury, incidences of Shaken Baby Syndrome have, thankfully, decreased in recent years. Even so, the numbers represent real people and real heartbreak, and are reason enough to keep the statistics, prevention strategies, and stories of hope and healing in front of us.
In my time as a high school Family & Consumer Science (Home Ec) teacher, I am confident that Shaken Baby Syndrome was the most important and potentially life-changing unit in our whole curriculum. Each semester, I was amazed at how many students had never heard of it. At first, there would be some snickers, because it just sounded funny to them. Then there would be the awkward shifting in seats as students began to comprehend the seriousness of the topic unfolding before them. Inevitably, there would be tears that preceded the disbelief that THIS REALLY HAPPENS, and it is 100% PREVENTABLE. The first question was, "Why?"
The next question was: “What can we do about it?”
At this point, students would brainstorm in two categories: (1) Strategies to help soothe a baby who won’t stop crying and (2) Strategies to help calm yourself when Baby won’t stop crying.
The students then made awareness posters, which we posted in a display at the school and distributed to area organizations to help spread the word.
The most significant portion of this unit was the simple assignment that each student ask three people (friends, siblings, parents, etc.) if they had ever heard of Shaken Baby Syndrome. Either way, they were encouraged to have a conversation about it. These conversations opened the doors for deeper communication and many students reported that the people they spoke with had not heard of it. Giving them the platform (assignment) and the tools (knowledge gained) EMPOWERED them to have real conversation about an important issue and to know that in this simple way, THEY COULD MAKE A DIFFERENCE.
So, the teacher in me gives you a homework assignment:
What is Shaken Baby Syndrome?
List 5 Facts and 5 Statistics about SBS
What are 5 ways you can soothe a crying baby?
What are 5 strategies to calm yourself when Baby won’t stop crying.
Ask three people about SBS.
Extra credit opportunity: share below about how your conversations went!
For more information about the facts, statistics, and prevention of Shaken Baby Syndrome/Abusive Head Trauma, visit the following organizations: