planted for awareness about child abuse
Last Friday members of the St. Mary’s Hospital staff planted a pinwheel garden between the hospital and clinic entrance to raise awareness about child abuse. They joined others close to home and around the state in a national program sponsored by Prevent Child Abuse America. Clearwater Valley Hospital in Orofino and the Kamiah Medical Clinic also planted pinwheel gardens during April, National Child Abuse Prevention Month.
In the same way the pink ribbon represents breast cancer awareness, Prevent Child Abuse America has adopted the pinwheel as a national symbol for their campaign to prevent child abuse. The Idaho Children’s Trust Fund, which is the Idaho affiliate of PCA America, hopes to raise awareness about available resources to support those who are raising or caring for children.
“One of the biggest steps we can take to prevent child abuse is to raise awareness within communities, large and small. Small actions like sitting with a crying baby can make a big difference in a new parent’s life. Get to know the children on your block. Parents, grandparents, neighbors, elected officials, law enforcement personnel and everyone within our towns and cities should also know what resources are available for parents and child care givers,” said Roger Sherman, Director, Idaho Children’s Trust Fund. “Any where there is a child at risk each of us needs to step forward and help ease the situation.”
Sherman suggests calling the Idaho Careline, 2-1-1, for information about local resources for children and families at risk.
In their childbirth education classes CVHC and SMHC provide expectant parents a booklet and ten minute DVD, the Period of Purple Crying. According to research, most shaken baby events occur due to caregiver frustration with unexplained infant crying. The Purple Crying program is designed to educate parents, caregivers and community members about the normal, early infant developmental stage called purple crying and how to handle it.
According to Dr. Ronald Barr, a professor of community child health research and a developmental pediatrician at the University of British Columbia, there is a period of normal infant crying beginning at about two weeks of age, peaking between 2-3 months and decreasing around 3-5 months. He said this crying is unexpected, resists soothing, is long lasting and occurs more in the evening. He uses the word, period, to let caregivers know that this experience of increased, frustrating crying is temporary and eventually comes to an end.
“During our childbirth education classes we explain that healthy babies can cry a lot in the first five months of life. Once the parents have confirmed that nothing is physically wrong with their baby, it is important for them to understand this period of crying is temporary and not their fault. The Purple Crying program helps parents understand and cope with the baby’s crying and their frustrations,” said Sr Janet Barnard, RN, SMHC childbirth educator. “It’s important for parents to share this information with their infant’s caretakers because they, too, can get very frustrated. The goal is to eliminate shaken baby syndrome which can cause death or permanent brain damage.”
Infants are susceptible to brain damage when shaken because their neck muscles are very weak and their heads are larger relative to the rest of their bodies, says the narrator on the Period of Purple Crying DVD. It is okay to leave the baby in a safe, secure place while you, as caregiver, remove yourself temporarily from the situation if you are feeling frustrated.
More information on the program is available through www.PURPLEcrying.info Another source for information on shaken baby syndrome and its prevention is www.stopsbs.net. For those without internet access both hospitals have information on the Period of Purple Crying and shaken baby syndrome.
“Any parent or caregiver who is becoming increasingly frustrated with the child’s behavior should reach out. There are people or agencies to call who are in a position to help. Our hospitals are also one resource and are staffed 24/7. Just ask for someone in the OB department. No one should feel alone and unsupported,” said Barnard.
SMHC staff and family members pose behind the recently planted Pinwheel Garden to raise awareness of child abuse prevention during April, Child Abuse Prevention Month. Pictured are Kelly Sheppard, Whitney Westhoff, Zoey Behler, Brenda Kaschmitter, Noah Behler, Collette Schaeffer, June Behler and Cheri Holthaus.