Child abuse is a very common occurrence throughout the United States. Thousands of children suffer from physical child abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and neglect every year. One form of physical child abuse that is extremely fatal and is continuing to receive a greater deal of national attention is Shaken Baby Syndrome.
Shaken Baby Syndrome was first described in 1946 by a child radiologist named Dr. John Caffey. He began witnessing cases in which infants obtained groups of severe brain hemorrhages, as well as bleeding behind one or both of their eyes. Extensive brain swelling often accompanied these injuries.
Dr. Caffey noticed that many of the infants who sustained these injuries showed no evidence of external harm. He was the first individual to note that these injuries may be a result of a baby’s weak neck muscles, and large, heavy heads.
In the 1970s, Shaken Baby Syndrome began to gain more national recognition as an extremely harmful and fatal form of child abuse. Medical professionals began to invest a great deal of time, energy, and resources in research related to Shaken Baby Syndrome. In the 1990s, criminal cases regarding Shaken Baby Syndrome began to surface and increase in frequency. Many of these cases presented some problems in that the individual who was responsible for subjecting the child to this form of abuse had no prior history of child abuse.
It is believed that in many instances, an individual who shakes a child does not have any intention or desire to harm the infant. An individual may resort to shaking a child due to momentary frustration that results from not being able to stop a child from crying. The individual may not consider the consequences of shaking the child or the irreversible damage that the child will sustain.
Some notable cases regarding Shaken Baby Syndrome include the 1994 case of Heather Holmgren, as well as the 1996 case involving 4-month-old Cody Taylor. In 2001, New York City established the Shaken Baby Syndrome Prevention Act, and in 2003, Europe held its first international conference about the harmful and fatal syndrome. Shaken Baby Syndrome is continuing to gain attention and recognition in countries all over the world.
In recent years, many organizations have been developed in order to raise awareness about Shaken Baby Syndrome and child abuse. These associations are often aimed at educating both professionals and new parents about the causes and the effects of the syndrome.
Many people do not understand the severity of the consequences that will result from shaking an infant. The injuries that a child will sustain may be fatal, and children who do survive this type of child abuse may spend the rest of their lives suffering from crippling disabilities. A child who has been subjected to violent shaking may never be able to live independently of a parent or a caregiver. If you need legal advice and assistance, contact a child abuse lawyer. It costs millions of dollars to provide a child who has sustained these forms of injuries with the proper care and treatment.
Because of the cruel outcomes of shaking a baby, many states have created legislation that makes this behavior punishable as child abuse. Research is continuing to be carried out on this syndrome, and new prevention and education programs are being developed in order to help stop this abuse.