The Herald Bulletin

October 9, 2013

Editorial: Never shake a baby; walk away, seek help

The Herald Bulletin

---- — Although it’s likely that incidents of shaken baby syndrome are vastly under reported, statistics suggest 50,000 infants suffer from such abuse each year in the United States.

A quarter of the victims die from their injuries. Most of the others are permanently disabled, their development retarded or halted altogether.

Fifty-thousand is a big number, and we’re exposed to so many statistics each day about various health and social problems, that the numbers can be numbing. But it hits home when we become aware of a specific baby that may have been abused.

A baby from Elwood is in the intensive care unit at Riley Hospital for Children, clinging to his life. And a young man and young woman are in jail, facing charges of child neglect related to the horrible injuries the baby has suffered.

Kaylee Kelley, 22, is the baby’s mother. Tyler C. Arnold, 20, evidently, is her boyfriend.

The story that’s coming to light is all too familiar.

Police say there is evidence of frequent drug abuse in the home. She allegedly reported that he had shaken the baby before, that he couldn’t handle it when the baby cried. In this case, she knew the baby needed a doctor’s care, but she delayed taking him.

A caseworker from Child Protective Services told police the baby had suffered bleeding on the brain, seizures, a fractured right femur and a broken left foot.

Some people would harm a child and feel no qualms. There’s not much that can be done for people like that, except to lock them up in prison where they can’t harm another.

But there are other shaken baby cases where a parent really cares about a baby but can’t handle the psychological stress of trying to care for him. The baby cries and cries and cries, and the parent feels powerless. The parent loses his temper and grabs the baby. ...

But these are parents who don’t want to do something horrible, who can be saved from doing something horrible. These are the ones who need to know that it’s OK to leave the child in the safety of his crib, to get away from the crying for 5 minutes to gather thoughts, to call a friend, a family member or a crisis line for support.

In just a moment of anger, a child’s life can be destroyed. But it also takes only a moment to step away from the situation and seek help.

Let’s hope for the best possible outcome for the Elwood baby at Riley Hospital. Let’s also hope that his heartbreaking story will touch a desperate parent somewhere, and cause him to pause long enough to take a deep breath and lay the crying child down gently.

Call for help

Stressed caregivers can call the Childhelp National Abuse Hotline at 1-800-422-4453 to get free, confidential help from a counselor.