Governor Steve Beshear's Communications Office
Gov. Beshear Signs Bill Aimed at Reducing Rate of Injuries to Infants
FRANKFORT, Ky. – Governor Steve Beshear today held a ceremonial signing of a bill that provides training to strengthen protections for Kentucky’s children and seeks to reduce the threat of child abuse known commonly as “shaken baby syndrome.”
“Protecting the health and well-being one of our most vulnerable citizens – Kentucky’s children – is one of my top priorities,” said Gov. Beshear. “Too many children fall victim to shaken baby syndrome, and we must do everything we can now to prevent this terrible injury. Every child deserves the chance to grow and develop into a productive, healthy adult.”
House Bill 285, sponsored by Rep. Addia Wuchner, of Florence, requires training and education for child care professionals and others who have contact with infants and toddlers to recognize and prevent traumatic head injuries classified as shaken baby syndrome. This type of injury is the result of vigorously shaking or impacting the head of an infant and can lead to severe, long-term disability or even death.
“I am honored to stand here today with many of you who contributed and worked alongside me until the final passage of this proactive legislation, that puts Kentucky on the offense in combating child abuse and neglect,” said Rep. Wuchner. “The tragic realities of the death of our most vulnerable of Kentucky citizens and the tiny survivors, the children who struggle daily as a result of being violently shake, and the fact that Kentucky has ranked number one in infant fatalities due to child abuse and neglect, was the inspiration for House Bill 285, sadly know as the Shaken Baby Bill. If through the awareness, prevention and education efforts set forth in House Bill 285, just one person is influenced to walk away from a crying child in moment of anger or frustration then it will be worth all our efforts.”
Pediatric abusive head trauma injuries or conditions include irreversible brain damage, blindness, cerebral palsy, hearing loss, spinal cord injury, paralysis, seizures, learning disabilities and death.
Head trauma is the leading cause of death in child abuse cases in the United States, and parents or caregivers are most often the abusers in these cases. The Kentucky Department for Community Based Services (DCBS) has seen an increase in reports of pediatric abusive head trauma, in part due to the enhanced awareness afforded through training and education currently to staff and the community.
“It’s imperative that we reach out to our caregivers and make sure they counsel family members about the risks of these types of injuries, as well as know what to do if they suspect a head injury has occurred,” said Janie Miller, secretary of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. “Protecting the long-term health and well-being of Kentucky’s children is the single most important thing we can do to ensure a better future for this state.”
During State Fiscal Year 2008, 21 cases of pediatric abusive head trauma resulted in a child fatality or near fatality. In State Fiscal Year 2009, 24 cases of pediatric abusive head trauma resulted in a child fatality or near fatality.
Professionals subject to new training requirements include:
- Law enforcement in basic training courses.
- Law enforcement professional development courses.
- Inmates in correctional settings.
- Foster parents who care for children younger than 5.
- Licensed child care centers.
- Certified family child care homes.
- Staff working in the Health Access Nurturing Development Services (HANDS) program (a voluntary statewide home visitation program for first-time parents).
- Urgent treatment or urgent care centers.
- Physician assistants.
- Emergency medical technicians.
- Advanced registered nurse practitioners.
- Licensed and certified social workers.
Those encouraged to provide training and awareness on the prevention of pediatric abusive head trauma include:
- DCBS for front-line child protection staff (currently provided).
- Kentucky high schools during students’ last year.
- Local jails.