By Charlotte Underwood / Staff Writer
In an effort to reduce child abuse in Laurel County, Saint Joseph London Volunteers have purchased a training device that teaches parents and caregivers about the dangers of Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS), according to Director of Public Affairs Sharon Hershberger.
According to Hershberger, SBS is a common form of child abuse.
Volunteers at the hospital donated $890 to purchase a Shaken Baby Simulator that has sensors inside the head to detect excessive motion from shaking. When the child simulator is shaken, lights inside the head are illuminated to show where the damage is occurring. The simulator is being used to provide education to parents who deliver a child at Saint Joseph London hospital. Any parent that has a baby delivered at the hospital will receive education and spend time training on the simulator.
“In addition, it will be used in the community to provide education, awareness and prevention,” Hershberger said.
Shaken Baby Syndrome is a severe form of child abuse that results from the violent or excessive shaking of an infant by the arms, shoulders or legs. It can occur with as little as five seconds of shaking and can result in a whiplash effect that causes bleeding within the brain or eyes. Almost all victims of SBS end up with a lifelong health issue, such as hearing loss, brain damage, cerebral palsy, paralysis or blindness, according to Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky. The Centers for Disease Control reported in 2012 that one out of four SBS cases ended in death.
Almost all reported SBS cases are related to inconsolable crying by the infant. In many cases, the caregiver did not intend to harm the child, but reacted in frustration. In 2012, there were 415 calls to report child abuse in Laurel County.
“We believe that education can make a difference in the community and that is what we are trying to do with this simulator,” said June Rawlings, director of Healthy Community Outreach at the hospital.
“We are blessed to have such great volunteers who are willing to support programs to address the health education needs of our community,” Rawlings said, adding that she truly believed the simulator “will help us to raise awareness about the devastating results of Shaken Baby Syndrome and save lives in communities in Laurel and surrounding counties.”
Rawlings has been taking the simulator and providing education to civic groups and at daycares, and plans to provide education at other community events in the area.
Due to state mandates, all daycares will soon be required to have education courses on SBS.
According to Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky, “it is impossible to know where the line is between safe and unsafe behavior for each individual child and situation. It is best to consider that all shaking is unsafe. A child that has been shaken may show symptoms of extreme irritability, difficulty in staying awake, difficulty in breathing, vomiting, seizures and tremors. If you suspect or know that a child has been shaken, then call 911 immediately or take your child to the nearest hospital.” Getting proper medical treatment immediately can make a difference and possibly save the child’s life.
“Education really is key and we wanted to go out into the community and show people what Shaken Baby Syndrome is,” Rawlings said, adding that Laurel County had especially high rates of child abuse and that she felt the numbers were “on the rise.”
Rawlings said she believes it is a combination of factors that lead to higher rates of child abuse.
“I think it has a lot to do with drug abuse and a lack of education,” Rawlings said, adding that was what the simulator and classes were all about, “making a difference and educating people and preventing child abuse.”
For more information about SBS training for groups and civic organizations or for free confidential information and support, contact Prevent Child Abuse Kentucky at 1-800-CHILDREN.
By Charlotte Underwood / Staff Writer
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