Shaking Kids Cannot Be Tolerated

 Q: The director of my day care makes me furious. She spends
 no time with the children and then hires young high school
 graduates as teachers who don't know anything about children.
 They come as fast as they go. I've seen providers shake
 children as well as send them outside wet in cold weather.
 What can I do?

 A: You are dealing with three distinct problems. Two are staffing
 problem and one is abuse.

 The more important problem is the shaking of children. Shaking
 children is forbidden ‹ for any reason. It can cause something
 called coup contracoup or acceleration-deceleration injury to
 the brain. It's a form of assault and battery and can cause a
 child to die.

 With such an injury the brain actually hits both sides of the skull
 and bruises, causing bleeding and swelling. Kids who are
 severely shaken often vomit, then become sluggish. At first, a
 provider might think she's solved her problem. Then it may be
 too late.

 Shaking a child demonstrates that a provider does not have the
 emotional resources to handle children. A major incident that
 involves shaking requires a 911 call for emergency help. A
 minor incident should be reported to the director. If no response
 comes from her, then law requires a call to the welfare
 department must be made by the provider. Parents should be
 notified that their child has been shaken and should be seen by
 a doctor as soon as possible.

 The wet clothes in the cold weather probably won't cause
 anything but real discomfort. It's an unkind and unloving action
 toward a child. If he's under the age of reason, about 7, he won't
 understand, and that makes it worse.

 The staffing problem is something different. Many reputable day
 cares hire very young women with and without degrees, who
 have little or no experience in caring for children because they
 are available and they work cheaply. This is especially so in
 summer when the need for child care increases.

 Young women usually do add a fun, carefree approach to child

 Young women are filled with life and energy and the kids love
 them. They work wonderfully in a situation where someone with
 experience can manage the bigger picture, but there are
 hazards to putting untrained young women in charge ‹ safety is
 one, development is another.

 A real in-depth knowledge of early childhood development, and
 an understanding of very young children only begins in either
 the college classroom or the day care classroom. It takes years
 of experience to grasp all the whys and wherefores of young

 A good director knows this, and unless she properly supervises
 their work, shame on her. It's her example and expertise ‹ in
 hiring, in her ability to work closely with the children and in
 teaching the younger women ‹ that makes a program really
 good or just another play prison.

 (Judy Lyden is a licensed day-care provider. Write to her c/o
 The Evansville Courier, P.O. Box 268, Evansville, IN 47702, or
 e-mail her at

 Scripps Howard News Service

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