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Summary: Parent Education Effective in Reducing Child Abuse

Parent education programs have shown to be very effective in helping to reduce the amount of incidences with abusive head injuries among infants and young children (36 months of age and younger).

  • According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, abusive head injuries among infants represent a devastating form of child abuse and researchers wanted to see if various prevention programs would be effective in reducing the incidences of abusive head injuries. The intention of this study was to determine whether a comprehensive, regional, hospital-based, parents education program, administered at the time of the child’s birth could be successfully implemented. All hospitals that provide maternity care in an 8-county region of western New York State participated in a comprehensive regional program of parent education about violent infant shaking. The program was administered to parents of all newborn infants before the infant’s discharge from the hospital. The hospitals were asked to provide both parents with information describing the dangers of violent infant shaking and providing alternative responses to persistent infant crying and to have both parents voluntarily sign a commitment statement affirming their receipt and understanding of the materials. Follow-up telephone interviews were conducted seven months after the child’s birth, to assess parents’ recall of the information. Finally, the regional incidence of abusive head injuries among infants and children involved in the study was compared with the incidence during the 6 preceding years. The researchers found that the incidence of abusive head injuries had decreased by 47%, from 41.5 cases per 100,000 live births during the 6-year control period to 22.2 cases per 100,000 live births during the 5.5-year study period. The researchers concluded that a coordinated, hospital-based, parent education program, targeting parents of all newborn infants, can significantly reduce the incidence of abusive head injuries among infants and children (36 months of age and younger).1

1Preventing Abusive Head Trauma Among Infants and Young Children: A Hospital-Based, Parent Education Program, American Academy of Pediatrics, Vol. 115, No. 4, April 2005, pp. 471-477.

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