Increasing shaken baby syndrome awareness

Date of Completion

January 2005


Health Sciences, Public Health|Sociology, Individual and Family Studies|Health Sciences, Human Development




When compared to most corporal discipline practices (i.e., spanking, beating, or burning), Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) is a particularly lethal form of child abuse, killing as many as 40% of its victims. Unlike other corporal discipline practices, shaking an infant is thought to be a failure in caregiver impulse control and in managing fatigue, frustration, and anger. However, SBS is rarely deemed as accidental; the injuries that result from shaking an infant are most often classified as non-accidental head injuries. Common perception of these perpetrators is that, at a minimum, they are criminally negligent and, maximally, they are guilty of premeditation. Societal response to this crime favors punishment of the guilty, rather than education or treatment for those at risk. In the current study, approximately 260 participants completed an original survey on attitudes about infant care practices. Participants were then randomly assigned to one of three intervention levels designed to raise awareness of the practices that may pose a risk to infants. Three follow-up surveys were collected over the course of 12 weeks. Between-group comparisons, exploratory factor analyses, and internal consistency tests were employed to determine the directionality and reliability of any latent variable or scale structure present in the data. Additionally, event history analysis was employed to answer the question: if increases in awareness occurred, for which intervention level(s)? ^