Saturday, May 3, 2014

Yep, I'm still ranting about Shaken Baby Syndrome (because it's not a real thing)

I've ranted about the problems with the should-have-already-been-abandoned nonsense called Shaken Baby Syndrome before. And before that. And before that. So perhaps you could accuse me of harping on it (though I don't think that's a fair characterization of 4 blog posts over 3 years). But it's important to keep educating the public about it because the public includes prosecutors and judges and defenders and prospective jurors. The more we all know about the bad science that has permeated these prosecutions so we can get correct results in every case.

In short, the idea behind SBS is that there exists a triad of injuries (subdural hemorrhage, retinal hemorrhage, and encephalopathy) that can only occur after some kind of abusive trauma (like shaking) and that onset of symptoms can be used to identify the perpetrator.

Here's a story about yet another person accused of shaking a baby to death based on the flawed theories behind the SBS diagnosis. Because make no mistake about it, the SBS claim is bunk. Fortunately, the flaw in Jennifer Del Petre's conviction has finally been recognized (though, unfortunately, not until she'd spent 10 years in prison). The noteworthy and encouraging point in this case is the skepticism the judge behind Jennifer Del Petre's release expressed about not just this case but the SBS diagnosis in general. Finally. We're finally getting through to courts. We may also be getting through to prosecutors as there are innocence review projects in numerous big jurisdictions and at least one SBS case was dismissed by prosecutors rather than being retried.

May we all continue to express more and more skepticism about the idea that a person's guilt can be established merely because a triad of symptoms were identified in an infant and that person was the last one around the infant. If you hear a prosecutor or doctor say that, you should question those assumptions. If you're a juror, you should be unwilling to convict if that's the state's case. And don't be fooled by experts or prosecutors who don't refer to SBS but instead call it Abusive Head Trauma. It's still the same turd of a theory, just dressed up differently.

The triad of injuries can result from so many different causes: serious trauma, accidental bumps or falls, organic diseases. And the triad can take minutes, hours, even days to appear.

It's important to identify child abusers. That should go without saying. But it's equally important not to mislabel innocent parents or childcare providers as abusers because we can't get past the flawed thinking behind SBS (and its replacement diagnosis, Abusive Head Trauma). So expect me to keep harping on (I mean blogging about) this topic from time to time until we eradicate the SBS diagnosis entirely.

No comments:

Blog Designed by : NW Designs