Mom Of Shaken Baby Syndrome Survivor Speaks Out

As a working-from-home mom of a special needs young adult, Carolyn Stinnett understands the deep divide between those who say COVID-19 has run its course and want businesses opened up and those who feel it’s way too early to make that call.

Stinnett, a Blount County resident, teaches at the Blount County campus of Pellissippi State Community College and has been instructing her students online for weeks, something she said takes so much longer to do versus being in person in a classroom. Her son, Corey Chandler, is a survivor of shaken baby syndrome, a 21-year-old graduate of William Blount High School who functions at the level of a 6- to 9-month-old because of his severe injuries. So worried that she will bring the virus into her home, the devoted mom hasn’t gone anywhere except on short walks and necessary appointments.

“Corey has not been out of the house except for walks in his chair in secluded areas since March 10,” Stinnett said. “The anxiety a mom of a medically fragile child feels during normal circumstances is high, but the fear of COVID-19 exposure has driven my worries through the roof. I clean constantly. I myself haven’t been inside a building — any building — since I taught my last on-campus class March 12. I worry about him contracting the virus and how hospitalization would work. Would I be able to stay with him in ICU?”

He is a fighter

Chandler graduated from WBHS in May 2019, but the months leading up to his special day were filled with health crisis. Between January and May last year, he was hospitalized four times with pneumonia and the flu. He has chronic lung disease, making him vulnerable to pneumonia and other problems.

Because of sleep apnea, Chandler must use an iVap and keeps a pulse oximeter machine on at all times to monitor his heart rate and oxygenation.

The list of strikes against Chandler is long. He required spinal fusion surgery when he was younger. Cerebral palsy, a side effect of shaken baby syndrome, caused muscles to torque around the inserted rods, which makes one side of Chandler’s back unaligned with the other. His lung on that same side is also compressed, making expansion difficult, Stinnett explained.

She adopted Chandler when he was just a baby. Chandler was shaken violently by one or both birth parents when he was just a month old, which caused irreparable brain damage. It was at least 24 hours after the injury before the baby was taken to the hospital.

According to the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome, there are 1,300 reported cases of shaken baby syndrome annually in the United States. About 25% of victims die, while 80% of those who survive have lifelong disabilities.

April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, with the third week designated for Shaken Baby Syndrome Awareness. Stinnett said she shares Chandler’s story in hopes of preventing someone else from destroying the life of a child with a 10-second mistake.

She said children are very vulnerable during quarantine. Adults and children are forced to wait it out 24/7 inside the home. Some parents have lost jobs or are working from home. Stress is through the roof in some instances.

Where stress can lead

“I would never wish what happened to Corey on another child, and while I wholeheartedly agree that the country should be sheltering in place until COVID-19 numbers show a sustained drop in cases, I do worry about children in homes where parents are stressed due to layoffs and money problems. Teachers normally provide a safety net because they see children every day during the school year and may be able to detect and report abuse in the early stages. Now, of course, students are sheltered at home so no one outside the family is able to keep track of their welfare. That is very scary.”

Marisa McPeck-Stringham is information and research specialist at the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome in Utah. She said the stress many are facing in this pandemic can lead to tragic mistakes.

“Stress is definitely a risk factor for shaken baby syndrome,” she said via phone. “When there is economic difficulty that includes job loss … we saw a rise in incidents during the last recession.”

McPeck-Stringham said it only takes seconds to inflict irreparable damage to a child. In severe cases like Corey’s immediate medical attention is critical. Some children experience a lower level of damage that might go undetected, she pointed out, only to be discovered later when the child has a seizure. While most have heard the term shaken baby syndrome, most doctors refer to it as inflicted head trauma, McPeck-Stringham pointed out. It is not just small infants who are the victims.

Who are our weak, defenseless?

A photo of a protestor in Nashville has made the rounds via social media. A sign read “Sacrifice the Weak; Reopen Tennessee.” Stinnett said she doesn’t know if the sign holder was referring to the elderly, disabled or medically fragile as the weak ones, but Chandler, she said, is a fighter.

“My son is one of the strongest people I know,” Stinnett said. “He functions as a 6- to 9-month old, all because he was shaken by birth parents. Few people could have made it 21½ years in Corey’s condition.”

There is a sign in Chandler’s room that sums it up: “A super hero lives here,” it states.

Ever since Chandler was a child, Stinnett has taken him with her to present at conferences on shaken baby syndrome. They have been to Salt Lake City, Atlanta and also Canada. They are set to attend a conference in September in Philadelphia, where Stinnett will talk about the challenges faced by children who survive shaken baby syndrome to age 21.

They no longer qualify for pediatric care and must find new doctors, Stinnett pointed out. Medications that were covered before age 21 are not after that. It is also more difficult to move and transport Chandler because of his size.

For all to see and know

“By presenting at conference, talking to various groups and giving information via newspaper or television interviews, our goal is prevention,” Stinnett said. “Corey was shaken at 1 month of age. His neck muscles were not developed and the violent back and forth motion of shaking causes internal trauma to the brain.”

Chandler had bruises on his chest where his chin struck during the violent shaking, Stinnett said. In addition, he also had bruises on his arms and a possible break where he was held tightly during the shaking.

“Most people’s nerves are on end during the pandemic,” the mom said. “A child’s crying can trigger shaking.”

Stinnett said adults should make sure the child doesn’t have some discomfort, such as a wet diaper and then put the child in a safe place, such as his or her bed, and walk away for a few minutes.

“No child ever died from crying,” she said. “But if a parent or caregiver loses his or her temper, or she may cause a child’s death or a lifetime of living with major health issues and permanent disabilities.”

McPeck-Stringham agreed, saying that crying is the No. 1 stimulus for abuse. Her organization provides educational programs to help parents cope in stressful situations. She said Stinnett is a great spokeswoman and hopes the conference in Philadelphia will take place as planned, with Stinnett in attendance.

“She is a wonderful mother and advocate,” McPeck-Stringham said.

This article was originally published by


Scott Juceam is one of the leading advocates against Shaken Baby Syndrome. Scott’s life changed when his daughter Hannah was shaken to death by her nanny in 2006. Since then, Scott has dedicated his life to preventing Shaken Baby Syndrome and child abuse.

To learn more about me, please visit my website at or you can click here.

Choctaw County Father Charged With Death Of Three-Month Old Baby

Today, the Choctaw County District Attorney’s Office charged 25-year-old Sean Gasway with Murder in the First Degree related to the death of his baby.

The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI), with assistance from the Choctaw County Sheriff’s Office, Hugo Police Department and Sawyer Police Department helped make the arrest.

The investigation began on April 10, 2020, when the Choctaw County Sheriff’s Office received a 9-1-1 call about an unresponsive three-month-old child.

The baby was transported to Choctaw County Memorial Hospital, and then transferred to Saint Francis Children’s Hospital in Tulsa, Okla.

Officials say it was determined that the victim had sustained a life-threatening brain injury.

The Choctaw County Sheriff’s Office contacted the OSBI and requested Investigative assistance with the case.

Officers say during the course of the investigation, it was determined that the baby’s injury was the result of Shaken Baby Syndrome and that the baby was in the care of his biological father, Gasway, at the time the injury occurred.

On April 15, 2020, the baby died at Saint Francis Children’s Hospital as a result of his injuries.

Gasway has been in custody since April 10 when he was arrested on an unrelated outstanding warrant and booked into the Choctaw County Jail. He remains in custody.

This article was originally published by


Scott Juceam is one of the leading advocates against Shaken Baby Syndrome. Scott’s life changed when his daughter Hannah was shaken to death by her nanny in 2006. Since then, Scott has dedicated his life to preventing Shaken Baby Syndrome and child abuse.

To learn more about me, please visit my website at or you can click here.

Doctors Warn Of Child Abuse Risks During Pandemic

Doctors are on the lookout and warning of a potential increase in child abuse as the coronavirus pandemic takes its toll on communities and economies around the world.

Health experts at Community Medical Center say the last economic downturn between 2007 and 2009 resulted in a 65% increase in abusive head trauma, formerly known as shaken baby syndrome.

“When there is a recession or other financial insecurity, there’s going to be a higher risk of violence or domestic violence, child abuse falling into that category,” said Dr. Laurie Carter, a pediatric hospitalist at Community Children’s in Missoula.

Carter wants Montanans to be aware of the heightened risk of child abuse that come during these unprecedented times.

The coronavirus pandemic has closed schools and child care services which have mandatory reporters who can keep track of at-risk children.

“It may be that after we no longer have to practice social distancing, that these cases are just going to come in large numbers, because when the children return to school or day care, people will recognize that there has been maltreatment in the interim,” said Carter.

If you suspect child abuse call the Child and Family Services Division child abuse hotline at 866-820-5437.

The following press release gives details on what to do if you are living with children or if you know of any at-risk families:

Yesterday, Montana governor, Steve Bullock, issued a “stay at home” order for all Montanans, only allowing us to leave home for certain necessary functions, such as buying food or medicine, going to work at essential businesses, or performing outdoor recreation, as long as everyone maintains physical distance (six feet apart) in these situations.

“While this action by the state is necessary to flatten the curve of COVID-19 in our state to preserve our medical equipment and healthcare staff, it also comes a ripple effect not directly related to medical illness,” says Laurie Carter, MD, pediatric hospitalist at Community Children’s in Missoula. “Our nation is experiencing an unprecedented increase in unemployment, which will be followed by financial insecurity for most Montanans. If past experience can predict the future, this will likely be followed by an increase in child abuse.”

During the last economic downturn, The Great Recession, that occurred from 2007 to 2009, the rate of abusive head trauma, formerly known as “shaken baby syndrome,” increased by 65 percent in the three years during the downturn compared to the three years before The Great Recession.

Our public schools are closed, at least through April 10, and many child care centers have similarly closed. This has led to families, who are already burdened by anxiety or unemployment, having to spend every hour, every day of the week together. Well known risk factors for child abuse are social isolation, parenting stress and family stress – which most likely will describe the environment of many homes where the “stay at home” order is being applied.

Other parts of the country, which have more extensively been affected by COVID-19 to date, have already noted this increase in child abuse, and believe it is directly related to the stress of social distancing and unemployment.

On March 20, a children’s hospital in Fort Worth, Texas reported seven cases of severe child abuse, with two deaths in one week. Typically, their hospital would see this many cases over the course of a month, and a total of six deaths each year from abuse.

Another concerning statistic is that the fewer people have been calling the child abuse hotline in Colorado since the pandemic closed school and other family services. Between March 2 and 6, they received greater than 4,800 calls. This past week they have only received half that number. This decrease is most likely due to fewer teachers and non-parental caregivers being in contact with children.

What can we do to decrease the risk of child abuse?

Check in with your friends and offer a listening ear. If you are in a position to do so, support your neighbors’ food security and financial security with donations to our food banks/pantries or charities like the United Way, which offer direct financial support to lessen the impact of unemployment.

Additionally, look to make your own relationships with your children as positive and healthy as you can. The American Academy of Pediatrics has published parenting tips on their website, including:

Engage your children in constructive activities.

Bored or frustrated children are more likely to act out. Many children have had their lives disrupted. They are out of school, and they can’t play with their friends.

Help them with their fears.

Children who are old enough to follow the news may be afraid, for example, that they or their parents are going to die. You can acknowledge the fear, and discuss all the things you are doing to stay healthy, such as washing hands and staying home to avoid germs.

Call a time-out.

This discipline tool works best by warning children they will get a time-out if they don’t stop, reminding them what they did wrong in as few words and with as little emotion as possible, and removing them from the situation for a pre-set length of time (1 minute per year of age is a good guide).

Know when not to respond.

As long as your child isn’t doing something dangerous and gets plenty of attention for good behavior, ignoring bad behavior can be an effective way of stopping it. Ignoring bad behavior also can teach children natural consequences of their actions. For example, if your child keeps dropping his food on purpose, he soon will have no more crackers left to eat.

Catch them being good.

Children need to know when they do something bad—and when they do something good. Notice good behavior and point it out, praising success and good tries. This is particularly important in these difficult times, when children are separated from their friends and usual routines.

Give them your attention.

The most powerful tool for effective discipline is attention—to reinforce good behaviors and discourage others. Remember, all children want their parent’s attention. When parents are trying to work at home, this can be particularly challenging. Clear communication and setting expectations can help, particularly with older children.

If you are ever concerned that you, or someone you know, is at risk of harming a child,

PLEASE call the Child & Family Services Division child abuse hotline: (866) 820-5437

Other resources from

This article was originally published by


Scott Juceam is one of the leading advocates against Shaken Baby Syndrome. Scott’s life changed when his daughter Hannah was shaken to death by her nanny in 2006. Since then, Scott has dedicated his life to preventing Shaken Baby Syndrome and child abuse.

To learn more about me, please visit my website at or you can click here.