skip navigation

CrimeSolutions.gov

Add your conference to our Justice Events calendar

PUBLICATIONS

Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the NCJRS Abstracts Database. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.

 
  NCJ Number: NCJ 220982     Find in a Library
  Title: S.O.S. for S.B.S.? Not quite...
  Document URL: HTML 
  Author(s): Catherine Guthrie
  Date Published: 01/2007
  Page Count: 2
  Annotation: The article presents cases which demonstrate the “persistent popularity” of Shaken Baby Syndrome claims in spite of alleged scientific doubt.
  Abstract: Despite international controversy over the Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) diagnosis, recent cases illustrate that American courts are still willing to admit evidence of SBS through expert testimony and demonstrative exhibits. Medical professionals and legal scholars frustrated with the high numbers of SBS-related cases in American appellate courts, increasing from about 50 in 2000 to over 80 in 2006 have proposed solutions including interagency review of suspected abuse cases, improved training for pathologists, and heightened judicial scrutiny of “expert” evidence. SBS occurs when a violent, shaking force causes an infant's head to rapidly accelerate and decelerate backwards and forwards in a whiplash motion. However, recent research suggests that the three indicia associated with SBS may also be unintentionally generated by a short-distance fall, apnea, or vaccine reaction. Such claims cast doubt upon the certainty of SBS diagnoses, especially when based solely on identification of the triad of intracranial injuries. Three characteristics of SBS make it particularly appealing to prosecutors. First, the shaking motion generally does not result in external wounds. Thus SBS can be alleged even if there is no sign of other injuries such as bruising, abrasions, or lacerations. Second, some have linked shaking behavior to normally loving adults that have simply "snapped" under the stress of parenting. This means that SBS can be proposed even if there is no history of prior abuse. Third, this syndrome involves scientific evidence, and fact finders may perceive such evidence as infallible. Therefore jurors and judges may too readily accept a suggestion of SBS without sufficiently considering the validity of the underlying medical principles. References
  Main Term(s): Evidence identification and analysis ; Evidence ; Child abuse ; False evidence
  Index Term(s): Forensics/Forensic Sciences ; Courts ; Forensic pathology ; Forensic science training
  Type: Issue Overview
  Country: United States of America
  Language: English
  Note: Downloaded December 20, 2007
   
  To cite this abstract, use the following link:
https://www.ncjrs.gov/App/Publications/abstract.aspx?ID=242827

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.