“BABY SHAKER” App Inspires New SBS Prevention Effort

RALEIGH, N.C. – Prevent Child Abuse America has joined forces with the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome, the Sarah Jane Brain Foundation and two of the nation’s leading doctors who are experts in the prevention of Abusive Head Trauma (Shaken Baby Syndrome) in calling upon Apple and AT&T to act immediately to prevent a potential disaster. In addition, the groups announced a joint effort with an iPhone application development firm to create applications to prevent SBS.

The groups announced the collaborative effort today at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. The application will be developed by Soma Creates, a software development company, with special instruction from Dr. Desmond Runyan of UNC Chapel Hill and Dr. Robert Murphy of Duke University’s Center for Child and Family Health.

James Hmurovich, President and CEO of Prevent Child Abuse America, noted, “We have joined this effort because we are dismayed that a culture exists within the company that allowed the concept to even be discussed, much less approved for distribution.”

Hmurovich, who was referring to the notorious “BABY SHAKER” application briefly for sale in Apple’s iStore last month, further stated, “There are potentially thousands of these applications still out there which were downloaded before Apple removed the application from its iStore, and are still undoubtedly in the hands of children and young adults all around the world.”

Marilyn Barr, Founder of the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome, stated, “We are very pleased to join with one of the leading child abuse advocacy organizations in the country to mitigate the current crisis and to work collaboratively on this new prevention effort.”

She added, “We are still calling on Apple to step in and use their technical expertise to help these leaders in the field of child abuse prevention to develop further applications; however, prevention of Abusive Head Trauma cannot wait for Apple to act which is why we chose to move forward ourselves.”

Josh Heidebrecht, President of Soma Creates Inc., offered to help develop the new application after reading about the launch and subsequent removal of the infamous “BABY SHAKER” application last month.

“I was shocked to see anyone finding humor in an iPhone game that had players shake a baby until it dies. When people do not understand an issue, a common reaction is to respond with humor; so I am excited to work with Dr. Runyan and Dr. Murphy to help raise awareness of the seriousness of brain injuries by building fun and interactive iPhone toys to help educate both parents and children about child abuse,” Heidebrecht stated. His company is the premier producer of iPhone interactive toys for children and parents and is donating the proceeds from their newest iPhone application to The Sarah Jane Brain Foundation.

Dr. Runyan stated, “Incorporating new media strategies in the prevention of one of the most devastating forms of child abuse is something that has been sorely needed for a long time, especially since the target audience of prevention and awareness is the same – young men who are statistically the most likely to shake babies.”

Murphy added, “I have seen first hand the long-term effects of shaking a baby on the children and their families, but until it happens to them, people don’t realize how serious of an issue it is. These new iPhone applications will help people realize that before it’s too late.”

Immediately following the announcement, Runyan and Murphy both participated in a two-hour panel discussion on the prevention of abusive head trauma in children.

Jennipher Dickens, Communications Director for the Sarah Jane Brain Foundation and mother of a shaken baby, who also participated in today’s panel discussion, added, “We are so glad to see something positive come out of this whole situation. This is in line with the philosophy of the Sarah Jane Brain Foundation which is, ‘Things work out best for those who make the best out of the way things work out.’

The panel discussion was part of the Sarah Jane Brain Foundation’s 15-city American PABI Heroes Tour (www.pabitour.com). For more information, call (718) 736-4487.

About Prevent Child Abuse America

Prevent Child Abuse America, founded in Chicago in 1972, is the nation’s leading organization working solely to prevent the abuse and neglect of our nation’s children. Through its chapters in 47 states and leading direct service program, Health Families America, in more than 400 communities nationwide, Prevent Child Abuse America helps provide healthy, stable and stimulating experiences for more than 100,000 families every year. For more information, please visit www.preventchildabuse.org.

About The National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome (NCSBS)

NCSBS is the only worldwide organization that is dedicated solely to the prevention of this form of child abuse. The National Center began offering SBS prevention programs in 1990 and has been providing leadership in the development of prevention programs, training courses and public education campaigns. Every year, the National Center’s ongoing training efforts reach thousands of medical, legal, child protection and law enforcement professionals worldwide. For more information, please visit www.dontshake.org.

About Soma Creates Incorporated

Soma Creates builds interactive toys for parents and their toddlers. Their mission is to create early childhood experiences that would not have been possible through traditional mediums. They do this through novel application of technology to create toys while parents, through their toys, create, share and grow with their children. For more information, please visit www.somacreates.com.

About The Sarah Jane Brain Foundation

The mission of The Sarah Jane Brain Foundation is to assist the millions of children/young adults and their families who are suffering from the #1 leading cause of death and disability in the U.S. – pediatric acquired brain injury (PABI). In order to fulfill this mission, The Sarah Jane Brain Foundation with its National Advisory Board is developing a seamless, standardized, evidence-based system of care, universally accessible for all of these PABI families wherever they live in the United States. For more information, please visit www.TheBrainProject.org