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WHY WE DO IT

  

THE PROBLEM

Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) is a subset of Abusive Head Trauma (AHT), the leading cause of death and disability in young children (Klevens, 2010). Babies less than one year are at greatest risk of injury. At least 1 in 4 infants who are violently shaken die (Carbaugh, 2004). Other forms of child abuse include skin injuries, fractures, abdominal injuries, and burns resulting in pain, permanent injury, and disfigurement.

In 2019, Texas had 235 confirmed child abuse and neglect-related fatalities, an increase of 11% compared to the 211 child abuse and neglect related fatalities in FY2018. Of those, 94 children (40%) died of Physical Abuse (Blunt Force Trauma and Intentional Homicide); 170 children (72%) were 3 years and younger. Tarrant County had 14 child abuse deaths in FY 2019, down from a record high of 21 deaths in FY 2018 (TDPRS, 2020). 
 
SBA’s three programs (Victim Family Services, Professional Support (Training and Case Consultations), and Prevention Education)  respond to the following points of intervention:
1. Crying is the number #1 trigger for SBS/AHT followed by potty training, feeding issues, and interrupting an activity of the adult caregiver (AAP, 2019; NCSBS, 2019).
2. As SBS/AHT is an injury in the brain and not visible, it requires specialized investigative training. There is no consistent funding source for such specialized training. 
3. Families impacted by child physical abuse need medical, emotional, physical, and often financial support. When a child is shaken, the most common perpetrator is the biological father followed by mom’s boyfriend. Mothers may be financially devastated by the spousal income loss. They miss work to care for their severely brain injured child, and the fluctuating needs of siblings. Care may be needed over a lifetime.
 
EXAMPLES OF IMPACT: 
• One mother in dire need of basic supplies at the onset of the pandemic called to say she was using kitchen towels as diapers for her teenage disabled son.  We helped her to meet her child’s needs.
• A father asked for assistance in purchasing a safe bed and car seat for his child when CPS removed the child from the mother and placed the child with the father after the mother’s boyfriend allegedly abused the child during the first few weeks of the pandemic. SBA helped with the purchases and parenting classes.   
• Police requested virtual training and consultations on child abuse reports with COVID-19 risks. For example, an officer called for help in prioritizing a scene investigation without proper PPE. We walked him through the investigation.
• A call from New Mexico resulted in our putting the Spanish version of our DVD, “When Babies Cry, We Cope,” on our website.
• A call from a teenage father with a baby screaming in the background resulted in SBA staff instructing the dad to put the baby in the  crib and step outside.  When the father was safely away from the baby, the Executive Director sent a copy of a When Babies Cry, We Cope poster to the father via text.  Using this poster, the ED taught the father about crying patterns in infants, how to COPE, and directed him to YouTube resources.  The ED also sent him links to online parenting classes that he could take using his phone.  The father called back about 3 days later and thanked the ED and said he had signed up for a class from the Parenting Center in Fort Worth, TX that had been recommended by the SBA.
• CPS called and asked for face-to-face education to be provided to the parents of a child who had sustained a suspicious injury.  We met with the family using our CASA partner’s facility and were able to provide the needed education while maintaining social distance and safety for all involved.  The parents were grateful for the education.
 
 
 

 

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