On average around 200 to 300 cases of violence are annually recorded against children and infants inside the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This has been revealed by the executive director of the National Family Safety Program, Maha Al Muneef.
In accordance with her, the shaken baby syndrome is also one of the various forms of abuse that the infants under the age of two years go through whenever they are held by the arms or under the arms and shaken violently and/or thrown on the bed or ground. This action can possibly result in 4 types of physical injuries;
1-Excessive bleeding in the brain due to the moving of the head quickly back and forth which causes the infant’s brain to move inside the skull and it may cause some blood vessels to rupture which feed the brain.
2-Internal bleeding inside the socket of the eye, due to the rapid movement caused by shaking of the head of the infant back and forth.
3-Presence of fractures found in the rib cage due to the way some people hold the infant under the arm of the infant.
4-She has also pointed out that there are some instances or cases of difficulty in breathing for the infant due to the shaken baby syndrome which may not have been diagnosed yet.
She also laid great stress on the fact that there is not nearly enough information in the Saudi society about the seriousness of the entire matter which is caused by rapid or violent shaking of the baby.
She stated that it is very necessary to educate the pediatricians about this syndrome and how they can properly diagnose it earlier on, in order to protect the infants from the adverse effects.
She strongly indicated the consequences of the shaken baby syndrome can be extremely disastrous for the infant, and in extreme cases can also lead to brain death, mental disability or vision loss.
Al Muneef also mentioned that the NFSP or National Family Safety Program’s role via its “Don’t Shake Me” campaign which had been implemented in the National Guard Hospitals. In the program, the social medical teams educate the mothers about the shaken baby syndrome, which in turn every mother conveys on to the father, family members and others who take care of the infant.
In terms of the causes of violent shaking, Al Muneef stated that these are usually related to the continuous crying of the child due to the child being colic, especially during the first few months after birth. Other reasons may include any disability or illness that required the parents to take extra care of the infant.
All of the reasons should be communicated on to the younger or new parents who may be lacking experience and/or the temperament to deal with an infant child. Communication of this information to all is a sure way of ensuring that no other child falls victim to this particular form of child abuse.