Kiwis asked to back new ‘Never shake a baby’ campaign

  • Paula Bennett
Social Development and Employment

New Zealanders are being asked to back a new campaign to prevent babies being shaken, says the Minister for Social Development and Employment Paula Bennett.

Paula Bennett says last year there were 75 discharges from hospital of under-two year olds with suspected non-accidental injuries. Averaged out, that’s an infant hospitalised every five days.

In addition, it’s estimated 23 babies each year are hospitalised because they’ve been shaken.

“That’s a simply shocking record. I think part of the problem is that there’s a generation of new parents out there who don’t know the danger to a baby of being shaken,” Ms Bennett says.

“The long term effects can be devastating. It’s irreversible. You simply can’t undo the damage to a baby’s brain.

“This campaign is the first step we’re taking toward trying to make a difference to New Zealand’s horrific child abuse rate. It’s a simple, practical step we can take right now to try to reduce the number of children being hospitalised because they’ve been shaken.

“The Government’s initiatives to further protect vulnerable infants will include:

  • A campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of shaking an infant
  • Better data and monitoring systems – officials will work to develop an agreed protocol for collecting and evaluating information
  • Support for a Auckland District Health Board shaken baby prevention pilot directed at new parents
  • A multi-agency safety plan involving health, Police, and CYF professionals for children leaving hospital after suspected or confirmed abuse
  • A First Response community based trial to follow up with families where there’s been domestic violence. Initially 700 children under 2 will be involved
  • An Independent Experts Forum, to identify more steps to reduce child abuse and neglect

“There are no easy solutions to New Zealand’s child abuse problem. But it’s unacceptable not to try to find some. The Never Shake a Baby campaign, and the other initiatives we’re setting up, will be the first of an evolving body of work into how best to protect our most vulnerable infants,” Ms Bennett says.