Students Use Essays To Show How To Prevent Child Abuse, Shaken Baby Syndrome

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Child Abuse and Shaken Baby Syndrome

Babies cry. In fact, most babies cry for several hours each day to communicate. Unfortunately, sometimes parents or caregivers become frustrated and shake a child to stop him or her from crying. The result can be Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS), which can lead to disabling, long-term health problems for the child, even death.

On April 18, Clarian Health honored two Speedway elementary students, Shelby Chilton from Newby Elementary School and Allison Nash from Wheeler Elementary School, for their creative thoughts to the question, "How would you make a crying baby happy?"

Principal and Champions for Children board member Tony Gagliano, PhD, challenged his students to answer this question using essays and artwork. The students shared their ideas to educate others on the importance of soothing a baby safely. Gagliano and other members of Champions for Children, a coalition of volunteers supporting the prevention of child abuse and neglect, selected the top essay and poster. Speedway Elementary Schools, St. Anthony's Catholic School, and the Center for Inquiry (IPS #2) all participated in the contest.

"It turns out, the children have so much to teach the adults," said Gagliano. "The kids are the real experts about how they would want to be treated."

"The most effective solution for preventing Shaken Baby Syndrome is to teach parents the skills they need to understand age-appropriate behaviors for their children," said Michele Saysana, MD, pediatrician at Riley Hospital for Children at Methodist Hospital and Champions for Children board member. "On behalf of Clarian Health, I'm honored to present a Rising Star Award to Shelby and Allison. They are helping make our community a safer place for all children."

Indiana State Senator Brent Waltz, District 36, underscored the importance of prevention and education for SBS by reading a House resolution to make Wednesday, April 18, the official day of Shaken Baby Awareness in Indiana. Furthermore, Waltz noted that he plans to introduce legislation and funding specific to the prevention and education of SBS during the next legislative session.


"Educational and awareness programs have proven to be very effective in preventing enormous medical and disability costs, but more importantly, preventing immeasurable suffering and grief for families," said Waltz.

The primary hospitalization of a shaken baby is estimated to cost $75,000-$95,000. For survivors, a lifetime of special care is needed, which can cost $3 million in the first five years alone.

Riley Hospital for Children and its partners within Clarian Health and the Indiana University School of Medicine are leaders in the fight against SBS and other forms of child abuse and neglect. The hospital system offers comprehensive clinical care, support programs, and leadership in a variety of educational efforts to treat and combat child abuse and neglect.

The Shaken Babies program at Clarian Health presents solutions to control behavior and identifies the injuries that occur from shaking infants. The program features a unique visual aid doll called "Mikey," who has a clear skull to show participants where brain damage can occur during shaking. Clarian's Nena Ray, RN, developed "Mikey" and is the program coordinator for ThinkFirst Injury Prevention at Clarian.

Other Educational and Prevention Programs

A number of programs within Clarian and Riley currently address child abuse and neglect including: