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Parents and Child Abuse: Never Shake a Baby

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Parents and Child Abuse

First Lady Mari Culver speaking about the bill to prevent shaken baby syndrome (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Parental abuse is disturbingly common and though this may sound surprising, it is not always intentional. The number one type of abuse that kills or severely disables babies is shaken baby syndrome. This is a serious form of abuse but is not always done purposely. Keep reading for a better understanding of this type of child abuse.

Shaken baby syndrome is exactly what it sounds like; the shaking of a baby to the point of injury. When a baby is shaken their little brains bounce back and forth against their skull. It causes brain swelling, brain bleeding, cracked ribs, blood vessels broken in the eyes and other various types of injuries. The consequences of this form of child abuse vary depending on how hard the baby was shook and the number of times the shaking occurred. Some children will die from the injuries. Others will be left disabled for the rest of their lives. The only good news about this type of brain injury is that young babies do not have closed skulls yet; their soft spots allow for a certain amount of swelling and this is the only thing that saves the children who survive.

When a parent shakes a baby, it is typically due to stress. Most of the time it occurs when the baby is constantly crying and is not able to be consoled. Some parents become so angry and overwhelmed that they cannot get the child to stop crying that they shake them. This is usually not premeditated, rather than spur of the moment. All it takes in a few hard shakes and the damage is done and there is no going back. The father is usually the responsible party as shown by statistics. They typically concoct stories about dropping the baby and shaking them a little bit to make sure that they are okay after being dropped. However, medical tests are nearly 100 % accurate in determining whether or not a child has been shaken.

This horrible abuse can occur in any family. Even the best and most loving parents can find themselves harming their children by shaking them and in other ways. Usually there are signs that abuse may occur. Recognising these signs can save the life of your child and save you years of terrible guilt of having hurt the thing you love most in the world. Below are ways to keep yourself from making the worst choice of your life.

1. If you find that you are becoming overly frustrated by your baby’s crying, put the child in a safe place (like their crib) and walk away to another room for a little while. All babies cry and sometimes they do not want or need anything. Sometimes all you can do is let them get it out of their system. But if it becomes too much, remove yourself from the situation until you have a better hold on yourself.

2. If you are feeling overly frustrated or angry, do not pick up your baby. Ask for help and take a time out. This will allow you to calm down enough to be a safe mum or dad for your baby.

3. If you find that you are feeling like harming your child, call for help. Step back from the situation and call a friend or family member. If no one is available then get online and find the number for a help line. This can mean the difference between life and death for your child.

Remember that just because you are having these feelings does not make you a bad person or parent. It makes you human. What makes a bad and abusive parent is not stepping back and asking for help.


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