Forgive me for being a bit cranky, but today brought a news story from WPTZ in Vermont that once again highlights how clueless (and I mean that in a literal, not unkind way - they may be clueless, but at least they're trying) about prevention some media folks can be.
A 13 month old boy is injured as a result of being shaken by a "babysitter."
Following a shot of the hospital, Reporter interviews "experts": Nurse, who teaches a babysitting course. Reporter then interviews director of the local child care resources center. Well-meaning people all...
If you watched it, the "lessons" you learned were:
- First, hire a licensed child care provider who knows CPR (um, CPR is good, but irrelevant: does Vermont require child care providers to be trained about the causes and consequences of shaking young children? I couldn't find anything about SBS prevention on the VT DCF site for child care providers, which isn't that unusual - most states don't require it. I did find some good SBS training, but it's for child welfare specialists: unfortunately, that's cart-before-the-horse training on how to deal with the consequences, instead of prevention...).
- Second, check references and do a criminal background check (um, "has she ever shaken your child?" - while this perpetrator is the exception to the rule, having a domestic violence "charge" driving with a suspended license, and having parole violations, most SBS cases don't involve someone with a criminal background). Oh, and given that most children are shaken by a parent or relative, just how helpful is advice to "hire someone you know personally"?
Not one mention that it might be a good idea to ask someone taking care of your child whether she has learned about shaken baby syndrome (or, for that matter, if your child is not a year old yet, SIDS), and whether she has a coping plan for those inevitable moments of frustration that do come when caring for a young child.
Given the absence of that critical info, it's particularly unfortunate and misleading that the televised report is "How You Can Protect Your Children..."
More on the story from the Burlington Press