Shaken baby syndrome ‘is child abuse’

(Courtesy image)
Updated 27 June 2016
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Shaken baby syndrome ‘is child abuse’

ABHA: On average, between 200 and 300 cases of violence are recorded annually against infants and children in Saudi Arabia.
This was revealed by Maha Al-Muneef, executive director of the National Family Safety program. According to her, shaken baby syndrome (SBS) is one of the forms of abuses that happens with infants under the age of two when they are held by the arm or under the arm, shaken violently and then thrown on the ground or on a bed.
This results in three possible physical injuries. The first is bleeding in the brain due to moving the head rapidly back and forth which causes the brain to move inside the skull and which may rupture blood vessels that feed the brain. Second, internal bleeding in the eye socket because of the intense movement of shaking the baby’s head back and forth. Third, the presence of fractures in the rib cage due to the way one holds the child under his or her arms.
She pointed out that there are cases of breathing difficulty due to SBS which has not been diagnosed. She stressed that there is not enough information in Saudi society about the seriousness of the matter as a result of intense and violent shaking. She said it is necessary to educate pediatricians about the syndrome and how to diagnose it early in order to protect children from the consequences.
She indicated that the consequences can be disastrous for the child, and can in some cases lead to brain death, vision loss or mental disability.
Al-Muneef mentioned the National Family Safety Program’s role through its “Don’t Shake Me” campaign which was implemented in National Guard hospitals. In this program, social medical teams educate mothers about this syndrome, which in turn every mother conveys to the father and those who take care of the child.
Concerning the causes of violent shaking, Al-Muneef explained that these are related to the child’s continued crying as a result of colic, especially in the first months after birth, or illness and disability that requires extra care from the parents. These reasons should be communicated to parents who may be young, lack experience and be short-tempered.
Other reasons for the occurrence of violence against children may be poverty, unemployment, addiction, society’s weak culture and the lack of enforcement of laws and deterrent punishment against violators.
Although the SBS is child abuse, the syndrome, unfortunately, is not generally accepted or recognized by health professionals or parents.
Al-Muneef emphasized the Ministry of Health’s efforts to present the “Don’t Shake Me” campaign and all its elements in the coming months to all the ministry’s hospitals in order to spread awareness among mothers and families.
She said that similar projects had proved their worth in other countries where the frequency of violence against children had been significantly reduced.
These programs are usually presented in hospitals to explain the preventive methods of violent head injuries, and teach the mother how to deal with crying babies.
Al-Muneef added that the campaign is presented by the National Family Safety Program as a proposal to raise awareness among mothers of the importance of fighting SBS in a competition conducted by the King Khalid Foundation. The program won the best proposal and work plan for a national development project and was financially supported by the King Khalid Foundation in September 2011.
Through the awareness lectures, more than 6,000 mothers have been educated about SBS during this campaign.


PWD-friendly infrastructure rebuilds completed in Two Holy Cities, Saudi Arabia tells UN

Updated 22 March 2019
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PWD-friendly infrastructure rebuilds completed in Two Holy Cities, Saudi Arabia tells UN

  • Infrastructure upgrades included public transport facilities
  • Centers for disability rehabilitation are growing across the Kingdom

JEDDAH: Major infrastructure rebuilds to aid disabled people have been completed in Makkah and Madinah, the United Nations heard on Thursday.

Dr. Bandar Al-Aiban, president of the Saudi Human Rights Commission (HRC), made the announcement in Geneva during the 21st session of the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

He said that the move came as part of a wider range of programs aimed at empowering the disabled in Saudi Arabia, to provide them with a suitable education, tools and the employment opportunities to ensure their independence and maintain a good quality of life. 

He added that the infrastructure updates included public transport facilities that were disability friendly, and easy access to government buildings and important historical and religious sites across the two cities.

“The Saudi government is keen to serve the Two Holy Mosques and other holy sites, and harness the necessary resources to serve pilgrims, and this includes the completion of major infrastructure targets that take into account the needs of people with disabilities,” Al-Aiban said.

“The government’s financial support for associations and NGOs for people with disabilities amounted to more than SR70 million ($18.7 million) in 2018. People with disabilities are also members of the Shoura Council, and hold leadership positions in various sectors. 

He also mentioned the recent establishment of the Saudi Commission for Persons with Disabilities and Special Needs, noting the growing number of centers for disability rehabilitation across the country, and the exemplary standards they set for disabled services in the Gulf.