I am a single mother of a 2-year-old boy and a 4-year old girl. I work ten hour days to support them. They’re in daycare and sometimes my boyfriend watches them. What do I need to know about child abuse and abusive head trauma?
Below is one of the common questions many clients have when they first contact Zimmet & Zimmet. The answer may address many initial concerns you may have. If you don’t find the answer here, or simply want more information, you should contact us for answers to your specific questions. Our initial consultation is free of charge.
A: Statistically speaking, your children are at high risk for suffering from child abuse and more specifically shaken baby syndrome, otherwise known as abusive head trauma. The most common perpetrator of the shaken baby syndrome is a mother’s boyfriend. I don’t know yours and am not telling you he’s going to injure your children, but statistically speaking, you’re in a high-risk situation.
The usual scenario involves stressed and overwhelmed caregivers. It’s absolutely normal to feel stressed and overwhelmed as a parent or as the caregiver to a child. However, some responses to that stress are dangerous. If an adult loses his or her temper, child abuse can occur. Some people don’t know that it’s dangerous to shake a baby. Unfortunately, the resulting injury can quiet the baby and the adult may begin to think that’s what the baby wants.
You need to make a personal plan to prevent child abuse both in your home and at daycare. The basics are very important. Ensure that your children are comfortable, fed and have dry diapers. A content baby is much less likely to cause adults to lose their temper. Sometimes the basics aren’t enough though. Make sure your child is not ill or feverish. If she is not, put her in a safe place, like a crib, and take a break. It’s ok to take five when you’re stressed out. Just make sure your child is safe first.
Child abuse prevention involves planning to manage any stress that your child induces in you or her caregivers. Make that plan (whether it involves taking a break or doing breathing or visualization exercises) and share it with your family, boyfriend and other caregivers.
REMEMBER: It is okay for babies to cry, it is normal. The amount of crying a baby may be expected to increase around the age of six weeks old.