Shaken Baby Syndrome Initiative Update

BACKGROUND Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) is a serious neurological injury inflicted on a child's brain result-ing from being whiplashed back and forth by violent shaking. SBS is child abuse usually triggered in the offender by frustration caused by the crying of an inconsolable baby.


A bilingual educational video was created for the purposes of distribution to health care professionals in the field. Its primary focus is in providing coping strategies for handling the frustrations that can surface when confronted with the care of a new baby. Reception to the video from the professional community has been very positive, as evidenced by the continued strong demand for additional copies from our Kiwanis office. In total, over 4000 copies have been put into circulation.

Initial distribution channels included the Ottawa-Carleton Regional Health Unit, high schools, parenting and caregiver training courses, the National Post Partum Support Program and the Parent Chan-nel. Our participation in the Second National Conference on Shaken Baby Syndrome held in Salt Lake City in June 1998 resulted in the video being promoted by the U.S. National Centre for the Prevention of Child Abuse. We expect a similar reaction from the National SBS Conference in Saskatoon held in May.

In 1997-98 the Young Children -Priority One Committee's SBS Project was the proud recipient of the Runner-Up Award for the best service project for the EC&C District of Kiwanis International.


While there is tremendous satis-faction in progress to-date distribution and communication strategies are being developed along three streams:


Although local awareness and support is building momentum, there is still a need to make a more direct and meaningful connection with local service providers. First steps involve the aggregation of all existing SBS information into a "hard data kit" to include incidence data, medi-cal consequences, local survey results, stress management techniques, etc. This "kit"will be available for distribution at a local seminar for health care professionals.


There is need to educate the public at large of the serious consequences of baby shaking. The message needs to be forceful, emphasizing medical consequences, preferably in a visual way. It is the committee's intention to script a creative brief for a local ad agency to develop a campaign theme and corresponding media plan. The resulting sales kit will be utilized to solicit corporate sponsorship of a mass media campaign. Ideally, the timing of its launch would coin-cide with Child Abuse Prevention month (October '99). Funding for the above initiatives is likely to be shared equally by current partners within the SBS subcommittee, including The Kiwanis Club of Ottawa, CHEO, Champions for Children and Health Canada.


Members who attended the District Convention in Barbados were equipped with communication tools and Lieutenant Governor-Designate Ron Wing will be tabling the SBS video prior at the Lieutenant Governors' training sessions. Clearly, there is still much work to be done!