Last Wednesday night, eight-month-old, Leileah Flowers was crying in her Hilltop home. Her 20-year-old father was playing a video game. According to his statements, when she had cried in the past, he had shaken her a little and she stopped crying. He says he was frustrated with her crying and shook her again. This time it caused her to vomit and her nose began to bleed. He noticed she was having trouble breathing.
Leileah arrived at Tacoma’s Mary Bridge Hospital around 8pm on Wednesday night. The police were contacted three hours later. Leileah lived two more days before dying on December 9th and becoming Tacoma’s 13th homicide of 2011. Her father is being charged with her death.
It would be easy to call Leileah’s father a monster. Go to any given news site about this and you’ll find comments doing exactly that. And to be clear, what he did is monsterous and terrible. I have a personal friend who has a child that was shaken by the child’s father. That child has severe brain trauma and will never lead a normal life. So I have no illusions as to the devestation this tragedy has caused.
However, I also believe that most cases of Shaken Baby Syndrome don’t occur with the intention of killing or even harming the child. It’s a combination of frustration, the loss of one’s temper and the lack of knowledge. This doesn’t make any of this any less tragic. And it doesn’t make the person involved less responsible.
What needs to be said, again and again is that you NEVER SHAKE A BABY. Not ever. My mother is a labor and delivery nurse. I’ve listened to stories of babies all my life. While it might be common knowledge for most, there are still many who simply don’t know or don’t believe in Shaken Baby Syndrome.
Leileah isn’t the first shaken baby to die. Sadly, she won’t be the last. My heart goes out to the family of this child. I can’t imagine what they’re going through. The only good thing that can come out of this is hopefully, there will be young parents who hear about this case and learn that they can never shake a baby.
– Jack Cameron
For more information on Shaken Baby Syndrome, go to: http://dontshake.org/