Never Shake A Baby!

Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) – also commonly known as abusive head trauma (AHT) – is a severe and preventable form of child abuse which often results in traumatic brain injury, and in extreme cases can lead to death. Shaken Baby Syndrome occurs when a child (usually under the age of five) is forcibly shaken. Even if the shaking is done only for a few seconds, the resulting injuries are almost always severe, and life-altering. Children who have been shaken often experience bleeding behind the eyes, and around the brain which can lead to a variety of disabilities.

Most survivors of SBS suffer from long-term disabilities due to being shaken as a child, including vision problems, physical disabilities, hearing loss, delayed learning, and many others. One in every four children who go through this abuse perishes from their injuries.

Shaken Baby Syndrome and abusive head trauma happen most frequently when a parent or guardian becomes angry or frustrated with the child, and resort to shaking him or her. This most commonly happens to infants who are crying for long periods of time. When the child won’t stop crying, sometimes frustrated adults will shake the child in an effort to stop the crying. However, the actions committed in those few moments of anger can drastically change a child’s entire life.

Shaken Baby Syndrome is a form of abuse that is completely preventable. It is normal for infants to cry for long periods of time, and as they grow older, the crying will subside. Frustration is a natural feeling, but shaking a baby is NEVER the correct response.

If you have a baby that won’t stop crying, take a step back and realize that even just a few seconds of shaking can take your child’s life.

Shaken baby syndrome symptoms and signs include:

  • Extreme irritability
  • Difficulty staying awake
  • Breathing problems
  • Poor eating
  • Tremors
  • Vomiting
  • Pale or bluish skin
  • Seizures
  • Paralysis
  • Coma

Other injuries that may not be initially noticeable include bleeding in the brain and eye, damage to the spinal cord and neck and fractures of the ribs, and bones. Evidence of prior child abuse also is common.

In mild cases of shaken baby syndrome, a child may appear normal after being shaken, but over time he or she may develop health, learning or behavior problems.

When to see a doctor

Seek immediate help if you suspect your child has been injured by violent shaking.

Contact your child’s doctor or take your child to the nearest emergency room. Getting medical care right away may save your child’s life or prevent serious health problems.

Healthcare professionals are legally required to report all suspected cases of child abuse to state authorities.

Never shake a baby!

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Shaken Baby Syndrome Is Real

Although the scientific and medical communities are in agreement: Shaken Baby Syndrome is real and that young children die from it every year, there still exists some who claim that it doesn’t, and those people are not basing this opinion on fact, but rather, some kind of pseudo-medical science.

According to, “Shaken baby syndrome was first described in the 1960s to describe the combination of several injuries: subdural hematoma (bleeding around the brain), retinal hemorrhages (bleeding at the back of the eye), and brain swelling. Rib fractures are also common because the person doing the shaking typically squeezes the child’s chest hard enough to crack ribs. How do these injuries happen with shaking? The fundamental cause is that a small baby has a relatively large head compared to the rest of his body and is unable to hold his head firmly in place because the muscles aren’t strong enough yet to do that. So shaking snaps the head back and forth, generating very large forces inside the skull as the brain bangs back and forth. This can lead to rupture of some of the small veins that surround the brain, as well as tiny vessels in the back of the eye. The brain then often swells afterward, as any tissue does when injured. If death or severe injury follows, it is generally because of the brain swelling. If ribs are broken from squeezing the chest, the fractures happen at the back of the bones where the ribs come off the spinal column. It is often illustrated in this way.”

There a few reasons that exist which explain why some individuals make the claim that Shaken Baby Syndrome isn’t real, but their primary argument revolves around a lack of understanding of medical science. According to a 2001 book The Shaken Baby Syndrome: A Multidisciplinary Approach, “’It is this absence of external signs of abuse which makes the early diagnosis of SBS so difficult.’ Shaken baby syndrome excites such controversy partly because it invokes the specter of horrible cruelty to an innocent, often in the immediate wake of the child’s death. Yet in the classic SBS case, signs of child abuse that one might expect– suspicious bruises, burns, cuts, or other injuries– are missing.” As it can be gathered from this quote, there is no factual evidence to prove what is being put forward here. In fact, victims of Shaken Baby Syndrome have the appearance of someone who has been violently stricken and beaten up.

As is the case with most things in life, remain calm and don’t let your anger get the best of you when you’re dealing with a young child! Anger and frustration are the lead causes for someone to lash-out and hurt their own baby or the baby they’re watching. Also, don’t let children handle babies by themselves, because children (under the age of 12) don’t fully know how much stronger they are than a baby, and they might shake a baby and not fully understand the ramifications of their actions.

Regardless, you as an adult are responsible for your actions, and you are never to shake a baby! It doesn’t matter what that baby has done to you… if you do something to hurt a baby, you’ll pay the price: you’ll go to jail, you’ll lose your family, and you might even kill someone. So think twice about shaking. And if you hear that Shaken Baby Syndrome isn’t real, remember that those people are liars, probably among the same order as people who used to claim that smoking was healthy for you, or that blood-letting was going to heal George Washington of his aliments.

Scott Juceam is an advocate against Shaken Baby Syndrome. He became one after his baby daughter was shaken to death by her own nanny.

Couple Arrested In Shaken Baby Case

This article originally appeared in

PRINCETON – Serious eye injuries, multiple brain bleeds and fractured bones in various stages of healing that were discovered when a 3-month-old infant was brought to a local hospital has led to his parents being indicted by the Mercer County Grand Jury.

Cory Nelson Hawks, 24, and Bridgette Katrina Hawks, 28, both of Princeton, have each been indicted by the grand jury, according to records released Friday by the Mercer County Circuit Clerk’s Office.

In both indictments, the grand jury charged that between May 21 and Aug. 16, 2015, Cory Hawks inflicted “serious bodily injury” by “shaking, striking, pushing, and pulling the infant” in a way that caused multiple bone fractures, brain bleeds, and retinal hemorrhaging in his eyes. He was indicted on a charge of child abuse resulting in serious bodily injury. Bridgette Hawks was indicted for child neglect resulting in serious bodily injury.

Cory and Bridgette Hawks are the child’s biological parents, according to the report filed by Sgt. M.D. Clemons of the West Virginia State Police Crimes against Children Unit. The case began Aug. 17, 2015, when Clemons was contacted by the state Department of Health and Human Resources about a 3-month-old male infant who was brought to Princeton Community Hospital the previous day by the Princeton Rescue Squad.

Bridgette Hawks called Mercer County 911 at 6:22 a.m. Aug. 16, 2015, to advise that her son had stopped breathing and that her husband had “accidently” fallen on her son, according to Clemons. The infant started having seizures after arriving at PCH and was transferred by ambulance to Charleston Area Medical Center (CAMC) where more tests were performed.

“An MRI showed that (the baby) had suffered cardiorespiratory arrest, ischemia (blood flow and oxygen going to the heart restricted) and multiple brain bleeds,” Clemons said in the report. “An X-ray revealed old fractures of the right fourth, fifth, and sixth ribs, a right femur fracture, and a right radius fracture. All of the fractures were in various stages of healing.”

An examination of the infant’s eyes “indicated retinal hemorrhages which are indicative of ‘shaken baby syndrome.’ Consultation reports from Charleston Area Medical Center indicated by child abuse was definitive,” Clemons stated.

Clemons contacted the infant’s treating physician, who had seen the same injuries on him. The doctor said that the injuries “were not consistent with the father’s explanation that he had tripped over the cat while holding (the infant).” The doctor also stated that the injuries were consistent with shaking.

After an interview, Bridgette Hawks advised Clemons that she would be willing to take a polygraph examination. Corporal M.S. Efrid, the polygraph examiner for the State Police, performed one on Sept. 10, 2015. Hawks said she understood her rights, waived her right to counsel, and agreed to be interviewed about the child abuse allegations.

“Upon completion of the examination Corporal Efrid determined that ‘deception was indicated,'” Clemons said.

Clemons and Efrid discussed the findings with Bridgette Hawks, who said Cory had become angry at her and pushed her against the wall while she was pregnant with her son.

“Ms. Hawks disclosed that Cory would become impatient with (the infant) while dressing him and ‘yank’ his arms through the sleeves of his shirt. She also described another incident.

“Ms. Hawks further disclosed that a few days before (the infant) started crying about his belly, she was woken up from … ‘popping’ or ‘snapping’ noises when she was taking a nap. Ms. Hawks stated that she woke up and asked Cory what happened and he said nothing but at that time Cory was holding (the infant).”

According to the incident report, Cory Hawks told Clemons that he had spoken with his attorney and had been advised not to speak about the allegations.

Clemons consulted an occupational therapist who said that the infant continued to show “developmental delays in all areas.” He is able to walk around, but not safely because he had problems seeing things in his lower visual fields. The therapist also said he is saying some words, but should be saying short phrases or sentences by now. He has been diagnosed with “cortical visual impairment” that will likely create challenges for him when he starts school and they begin to work on literacy.

The child, who is now 2 years old, also has difficulties with fine motor coordination, according to the therapist, Clemons said.

“He is unable to complete daily living activities for himself to the degree that other 2 year olds can do,” Clemons stated in the report. The child could also have problems due to impaired language and “likely difficulty managing his emotions because he gets frustrated when his needs are not understood.” The child also has started to bang his head to the extent that he is left bruised when he is angry or upset.