North Shore Mayor Andrew Williams has put his support strongly behind the newly launched ‘Never Shake a Baby’ campaign.
“Child, Youth and Family (CYF) reports that nationwide, around 23 babies each year are hospitalised because of being shaken. Shaking can cause brain damage and even death, “ he says.
Mayor Williams says that there are no specific statistics for shaken babies on the North Shore but abuse statistics are alarmingly high.
In the year ended 30 June 2009, 539 cases of child abuse on the North Shore were substantiated by CYF. Of those, 63 cases related to babies under two years old.
Mayor Williams says that as a father of three - now young adults - he can clearly recall the distress that he and his wife felt when they were unable to pacify a crying baby.
“I can understand why some parents would become desperate, but the only answer is to walk away, or if possible to hand over the child to another responsible adult.”
He says that many adults are simply not aware of how much damage a shake can do to a small child. Their undeveloped neck muscles and fragile heads make them highly vulnerable to brain damage and even death.
Deputy Major Julia Parfitt, who spoke at the campaign launch, says that each and every New Zealander should play a role in protecting vulnerable infants.
“These young children can’t speak out or protect themselves, so it is the responsibility of everyone of us to look out for them in our neighbourhoods and communities. “
She says that the campaign challenges men in particular to gain the strength to walk away when children’s behaviour is difficult or upsetting.
Nationwide, the “Never Shake a Baby” campaign will be supported by TV and newspaper advertising and other forms of promotion.
CYF has set up a dedicated website and helpline so that people can report suspected abuse, or get help if they are in danger of abusing a child.
Advice from CYF
If you think your baby has been shaken phone 111 for urgent medical help; it could save your baby's life.
If you would like some support or advice please call the Power to Protect helpline (24/7) on 0800 300 026
If you want to know more about the Never, Ever Shake a Baby Campaign check out www.powertoprotect.net.nz