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NYC Administration for Children's Services: The City's child welfare agency, dedicated to protecting children and strengthening families

Press Release

April 23, 2002

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg Marks Child Abuse Awareness Month With Public Education Campaign To Reduce Shaken Baby Syndrome

ACS and HHC To Target Parents and Caretakers of Young Children

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today marked Child Abuse Awareness Month by launching a public education campaign to combat the incidence of Shaken Baby Syndrome in New York City. The Mayor was joined by Administration for Children's Services (ACS) Commissioner William C. Bell and Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC) President Dr. Benjamin K. Chu, whose agencies coordinated the campaign.

"Research has demonstrated that the tragic deaths and disabling injuries that result from the shaking of infants by their parents or caretakers can be dramatically reduced," said Mayor Bloomberg. " I know of no better way to observe Child Abuse Awareness Month than to undertake this public education effort to prevent this tragic form of child abuse."

Over a three-year period between 1999 and 2001, ACS's Division of Child Protection investigated 44 cases of children who were victims of Shaken Baby Syndrome child abuse. Eight children died as a result of those injuries. Between 2000 and 2001, six children were seen at HHC facilities with a diagnosis of Shaken Baby Syndrome. An estimated 50,000 cases occur nationwide every year, a quarter of those resulting in the death of a child. Research also suggests that because of the lack of education about the cause and effects of Shaken Baby Syndrome, many cases go undiagnosed.

"All New Yorkers should be aware that Shaken Baby Syndrome is an extremely serious form of child abuse that can result in death or serious injury," said ACS Commissioner Bell. "Over the past few weeks we have read newspaper reports on the death of a three-month old baby and the serious injury to a one-year old child as a result of Shaken Baby Syndrome. We hope that the campaign we launch today will help us to prevent tragic cases like this."

"Shaken Baby Syndrome remains a misunderstood, underreported, and secretive form of child abuse," said HHC President Dr. Chu. "Unlike children who arrive in the emergency room bleeding, bruised or with broken limbs, these patients have injuries that are virtually invisible,
and thus more easily denied. We believe parent education can reduce these risks and save infants' lives."

Over the next few weeks, ACS and HHC will distribute copies of an 11-minute video, "Portrait of Promise," to all pre-natal, birthing, and pediatric programs at HHC hospitals and clinics throughout the five boroughs. Nearly 23,000 children are born at HHC hospitals every year. The City will also be reaching out to private hospitals, clinics and community based organizations to interest them in joining the educational campaign. The video outlines the damage that Shaken Baby Syndrome can cause and strategies that parents and caretakers can employ to cope with the stress often associated in dealing with young children.

The video was created and produced by The Junior League of St. Paul (Minnesota), Inc. and the Midwest Children's Resource Center at Children's Hospitals and Clinics. It has been approved by the American Academy of Pediatrics and has been used effectively in other parts of the nation to combat Shaken Baby Syndrome. In fact, a public education campaign conducted within the eight counties around Buffalo in 2000 helped reduce the incidence of Shaken Baby Syndrome in the region from an average of one case every seven weeks to one case every nine months.

The Health and Hospitals Corporation is a $4.3 billion public benefit corporation that operates acute care hospitals, four skilled nursing facilities, six diagnostic and treatment centers, over 100 community health clinics, a certified home health agency and a health maintenance organization (HMO), MetroPlus. HHC also provides health services in the City's correctional facilities, homeless shelters and public schools.

The New York City Administration for Children's Services protects and ensures the safety and well being of New York City's children and their families. Formed in 1996, the agency oversees the City's programs of child protection, foster care, preventive services, adoptive parenting, youth development, child care and Head Start.

ACS Press Office
Phone: 212-341-0999
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