The latest official state review has found nearly half of the Iowa kids under the age of seven who were killed in the first six years of this decade died of a brain injury. The state’s " Child Death Review Team " reports that from 2000 to the end of 2005, the deaths of 23 Iowa children under the age of one were classified as homicides.
Stephen Scott, executive director of "Prevent Child Abuse Iowa," says most of those babies were severely shaken or slammed into something. "The risks that very young children face is something that certainly has jumped out to us," Scott says. Scott’s group is urging lawmakers to spend $100,000 on a statewide program to educate parents about shaken baby syndrome. Scott envisions having the state give pamphlets to new parents explaining the danger of shaking an infant.
The group also wants the state to offer training sessions for parents as well as others who care for fussy babies, like employees in child day care centers. "About how they can approach these very stressful situations in ways that essentially diffuse them ’til everybody gets through the difficult period," Scott says. "That may be just basically leaving the room. It may be somehow getting someone to give you a break. There are just a number of ways to confront those challenges instead of just jumping right into the middle and letting anger and fatigue take over."
Scott says the reality is having a crying baby on your hands is extremely stressful. Iowa’s Child Death Review Team has just released its 11th annual report. Just over four-hundred Iowa children died in 2005.
While the focus of Scott’s group is on the small percentage of children who were victims of homicide, 62 percent of those 2005 child deaths in Iowa were from "natural causes." Another 23 percent were ruled accidental deaths.