Kudos to students Kaleb Boleyn, Luke Pranger and Jaime Mayerand their teacher, Nancy Hank, of St. Edward School!
WATERLOO, Iowa --- Emily Gilstrap ignored her instincts when handed the crying baby doll.
Instead, the Columbus High School senior began shaking the doll, which fell silent within seconds. Designed to cry regularly to simulate an infant's behavior, the doll also features a transparent head that showcases its brain.
As the crying stopped, several red lights were activated in the front and back of the brain. Gilstrap's class had just learned those areas control emotions, problem solving and eyesight. If it had been a real baby, the amount of force from the shaking would have caused brain damage.
"It wasn't a very comfortable feeling," Gilstrap said, voicing surprise at how quickly the doll indicated brain damage.
Her child development class got a lesson Thursday on shaken baby syndrome from an unlikely source. Four sixth-graders in Karen Nank's St. Edward School class made a presentation on the topic as part of a service learning project.
April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. The St. Edward students narrowed down their project to shaken baby syndrome once they decided to focus on child abuse issues.
"After we got the facts, we thought it was the issue that needed the most attention," said sixth-grader Brian Knapp. Members of the class, making more presentations today at St. Edward, use the doll on loan from the Family & Children's Council of Black Hawk County to help emphasize their message.
The sixth-graders --- who also include Jaime Mayer, Kaleb Boleyn and Luke Pranger --- told the Columbus class that a child up to 5 years old could suffer brain damage after being shaken for as little as five to 20 seconds. Mayer said that babies typically are shaken by a care giver who is feeling stressed.
"Almost all cases are caused by a baby crying," she said. "A baby would have to fall from a two-story building to get the effect of a shaken baby."
A Black Hawk County prosecutor told the students that someone who causes brain damage by shaking a baby could be charged with child endangerment, which carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison. A quarter of all shaken baby cases result in death, for which the perpetrator could be charged with first degree murder and receive life in prison if convicted in Iowa.* * *
Members of the St. Edward's class created a brochure with tips on alternate ways to deal with a crying child that will be handed out by the Family & Children's Council.