'Shaken Baby Bill' aimed at reducing child abuse in Ky.


by Adrianna Hopkins


Posted on January 18, 2011 at 5:41 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jan 19 at 8:12 AM

Louisville, Ky. (WHAS11) - It's called a landmark in the prevention of child deaths in Kentucky. According to Kosair Children’s Hospital officials, child abuse is the number one killer of infants in Kentucky.

House Bill 285, known as the "Shaken Baby Bill" passed the general assembly. The goal is to provide education based on a curriculum that will raise awareness of child abuse and prevent it.

"Last year in 2010, our team assessed over 800 children who were the suspected victims of child abuse,” said Dr. Melissa Currie of the University of Louisville.

It's a staggering and shameful statistic. One this group of child advocates, doctors and health care officials say they're changing with a legislative achievement.

Just in the last few months of 2010 alone, there were several child abuse cases.
Bullitt County mother Ashley Sneed faced charges for her 2-year-old son's bruises.

Johnny Juliot was charged for the death of 4-year-old James Hack.
And Jeffrey Barnett faces felony charges for shaking 5-month-old Bentley Barnett on two different occasions.

"We weren't going to be on defense, we were going to be on offense in protecting our children,” said Representative Addia Wuchner, the HB285 Sponsor.

Representative Addia Wuchner sponsored House Bill 285 - also known as the "Shaken Baby Bill."

There were several supporters of the bill which creates an educational program called "Portrait of a Promise."

It's a regimen - for doctors and health officials - who may come into contact with child abuse victims.

Hospitals will also instruct new parents like Kelly who son Justin is just 15-hours-old - how to cope with inconsolable children. In NY this program decreased child abuse by 47%.

But Representative Wuchner isn't stopping with HB 285.

"We're working on HB 90, which would require birthing centers to teach coping mechanisms to new parents and care givers,” she said.

The pilot program of "Portrait of a Promise" was actually implemented at three Norton Health Care campuses in June 2010. And so far 300 nurses have been trained to help new parents learn how to cope with fussy newborns.