It’s likely that you’ve heard of shaken baby syndrome (SBS) before but perhaps haven’t stopped to consider if your baby has experienced it because it’s disturbing to think that someone would ever shake a baby hard enough to cause them harm. But unfortunately, it does happen, and one of the most common places it occurs is at daycare facilities, where children aren’t under the watchful eye of their own parents.

Shaken Baby Syndrome Explained

Shaken baby syndrome, or SBS, is considered a severe form of abusive head trauma (AHT) inflicted upon infants and young children who are most typically under the age of two. It occurs when an individual forcefully shakes a baby, causing rapid back-and-forth movement of the head. This violent shaking can result in serious and often irreparable brain damage.

The fragility of an infant’s brain and neck makes them particularly vulnerable to the forces generated by shaking. When a baby is shaken, their brain moves within its skull, leading to injuries such as bleeding, swelling, and bruising. These types of injuries can cause long-term or permanent damage, including developmental delays, cognitive impairments, seizures, and even death.

You may be wondering why a daycare employee would ever shake a baby in this manner. Though there is never any justifiable means to shake a baby or any child this way, it most often happens as a reaction to high stress. If an infant is crying and is inconsolable, a childcare employee may become frustrated and lose control, shaking the child’s body to quiet their crying or as a means of punishing their behavior. The caregiver doesn’t always intend to cause harm—they just want the crying to stop. But intended or not, it is an inconceivable act that should be dealt with appropriately.

Signs of Shaken Baby Syndrome from Daycare Abuse

The signs and symptoms of shaken baby syndrome can vary depending on the severity of the shaking and the individual child. Common symptoms and signs of shaken baby syndrome can include:

  • Fussiness or irritability (more than usual)
  • Difficulty staying awake
  • Trouble breathing
  • Poor or altered eating habits
  • Vomiting
  • Pale, bruised, or bluish skin coloring
  • Seizures
  • Paralysis
  • Coma
  • Changes in behavior

Changes in behavior can sometimes be difficult indicators to solely use as a diagnosis of shaken baby syndrome, as babies and young children go through rapid waves of behavioral changes during these early developmental stages of life. But no one knows your child better than you, so if their behavior strikes you as consistently out of the ordinary, don’t hesitate to take them to see your doctor.

In some cases, there may also be no external signs of trauma, further making a diagnosis challenging. For example, you may not see bleeding in the brain or eyes, spinal cord damage, or fractures to the skull. Sometimes, fractures to other parts of the body, such as the neck, shoulders, or ribs, can also occur. Though you can’t see these, your child will likely be indicating the pain they feel through crying, so stay mindful of their behavior.

In mild cases of shaken baby syndrome, a child may appear normal after being shaken but could develop other health or behavioral problems over time as a result of the ongoing abuse. Once again, stay alert and attuned to how your child is behaving both in the short term and long term.

Preventing Shaken Baby Syndrome in Daycare Centers

Shaken baby syndrome is considered a form of child abuse, and so like all other forms of child abuse, the daycare facilities and centers you place your children with are strictly prohibited from engaging in it in any form. Specifically, caregivers should not shake or jerk children in any way, nor should they toss a child into the air, into a crib, onto a chair or car seat, nor push them into walls, doors, or furniture. Any one of these motions could possibly result in SBS, among other possible injuries.

It’s important to make sure the daycare center your child attends is properly licenses  and the daycare facility employees are properly experienced, trained and have been thoroughly vetted. It’s certainly possible that daycare centers with the best background and reputation could still employ abusive staff, but it’s less likely to occur if the center is reputable. Also take note of what the ratio of caregivers to children is, as well as what kinds of setup and activities are maintained. And don’t be afraid to ask your daycare facility what kind of training they have in place to help prevent shaken baby syndrome. Many facilities develop policies and teach their staff safe practices to help prevent this and other abuse from occurring.

One such example is “the 10-10-10 rule.” When caring for a child starts to feel overwhelming, caregivers should engage in one or all of three helpful options:

  • The 10-minute talk: When stress arises, caregivers should have a reliable list of people they can turn to or call to talk to for 10 minutes and help them ease their stress.
  • The 10-minute break: Once the baby is left somewhere safe, such as in their crib, the caretaker can take 10 minutes to focus on something else and recenter themselves.
  • The 10-foot rule: Once the baby is left somewhere safe, the caretaker can maintain 10 feet of space between themselves and the crying baby until their stress has subsided.

If a caregiver can’t handle the stressful emotions that can arise when a child is crying or misbehaving and escalates to physical abuse as a result, then they have no business being a professional caregiver.

What to Do if You Suspect Daycare Abuse

If your child is exhibiting signs and symptoms of shaken baby syndrome, even if they seem to be few or mild, get them immediate medical attention. Even if you aren’t sure if their behavior could be indicating something more severe, it’s always better to air on the side of caution and let a doctor check them out to determine what might be going on. Remember, these signs don’t have to be physical—they can be behavioral, too, such as crying, changes in regular mood, or changes in regular habits and patterns.

Once your child has received medical attention, if you suspect the harm they suffered was at the hands of their daycare facility employee, report it to your state first, and the local police second. Both are important to do, but the right state organization—usually a social services department like child abuse and neglect services—will be able to investigate and take action against the facility more quickly. In Missouri, the Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline number is 1-800-392-3738, and in Illinois, dial 1-800-252-2873. If you’re located in a different state, a quick internet search will provide the correct phone number to call.

And if it’s discovered that someone at your child’s daycare facility has engaged in SBS or any other form of abuse to a child, your next move should be to contact a daycare abuse attorney. They will help you make sure the responsible party is held accountable for their actions and that you receive the compensation and justice your family deserves.

How Finney Injury Law Can Help You Fight Daycare Abuse and Seek Justice for Shaken Baby Syndrome Victims

At Finney Injury Law, we are committed to safeguarding the most vulnerable members of our society. Every child deserves a safe and nurturing environment, especially when entrusted to the care of a daycare facility. However, the reality is that daycare abuse can occur, with devastating consequences, such as Shaken Baby Syndrome.

Shaken baby syndrome is a severe form of child abuse that can result in lifelong injuries or even death. Recognizing the signs of daycare abuse and understanding the dangers of Shaken baby syndrome are crucial steps in protecting children from harm.

As experienced Missouri personal injury attorneys, we have seen firsthand the trauma that daycare abuse caused by daycare employees can inflict on innocent victims and their families. We are dedicated to holding negligent daycare providers accountable for their actions and seeking justice for those who have been harmed.

If your child has been a victim of daycare abuse or if you suspect abuse is occurring, don’t hesitate to take action. Contact us today for a confidential consultation. Together, we can fight to ensure that children are safe and protected from harm in daycare settings.

Take the first step towards justice and healing. Call now 314-293-4222.

Posted Under: Daycare Injuries

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