Letter to the Editor

Instructions for Submitting a Letter to the Editor:

Sending a letter to your local newspapers is a great way to spread information about SBS. Here is a sample letter to the editor that you can use, after making a few small changes. In the last sentence of the second paragraph, please fill in the name of your county as well as list some of the educational strategies you are using, such as presentations to high school students or new parents, or discussing SBS with hospital staff. Also, in the last sentence of the third paragraph, as well as under your signature, please include the contact information for your county so that people reading the newspaper may get in touch with you for more information.

Submitting a letter to the editor is easy to do. The "Contact Us" or "Opinion" section of your local newspaper website will probably have information on where to send an opinion article or letter. You may also call the newspaper office, and they will be able to give you instructions on how to submit a letter.

To the Editor:

Child abuse is a major problem facing our community. One of the most dangerous and tragic forms of abuse is Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS). SBS happens when a caregiver violently shakes a baby or young child, causing brain injuries, cerebral palsy, blindness, hearing loss, learning and behavior problems, seizures, paralysis, and death. Twenty-five percent of shaken babies die, and 80% of survivors are left with lasting medical problems. Between 1,000 and 3,000 children in the United States suffer from SBS each year. Just a few seconds of shaking can result in lifelong injury or death.

The good news is that Shaken Baby Syndrome is completely preventable. Most adults responsible for causing SBS don't mean to hurt the child. Sometimes the caregiver is frustrated because the baby will not stop crying. SBS may also be triggered by other "bad behavior" from the child, or by stress in the caregiver's personal life such as relationship or money problems. Educating parents and caregivers about the dangers of shaking a baby is a proven way to lower SBS rates. Right now, the [your county] Health Department is working to educate our community on SBS though [your strategies].

If you are caring for a crying baby, first check to make sure he is not hungry, hot or cold, sick, or that his diaper doesn't need to be changed. If the baby is still crying, try rocking the baby, rubbing his back, or singing to him.

If you feel overwhelmed, it is okay to place the child in a safe place (like a crib) while you take a break for 5 or 10 minutes. Once you have relaxed, you can try again to calm the baby.

For more information on SBS and tips for soothing a crying baby, please contact your local health department at [insert phone number and/or email address here].

Sincerely,

Public Health Director
[your county]