Sixty seconds to save a life
The stations serving the Grand Rapids market aired a simultaneous public-service spot to alert listeners to the dangers of shaking a baby, a momentary act of frustration that is fatal 25% of the times it happens.
The non-profit National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome estimates that as many as 1,400 shaken babies are injured a year, with up to 430 of them dying from their injuries. Children who survive shaking face an 80% chance of lifelong complications including blindness; hearing impairment; cerebral palsy; seizures, and speech and learning disabilities.
The public-service spot, which ran as a roadblock so listeners could not escape the message by switching stations, features the crying of an increasingly fussy baby and concludes with the warning: “No matter how much she cries. No matter how tired you are. No matter how frustrated you get. Never, ever shake a baby.”
The Michigan broadcasters were persuaded to run the roadblock after learning of the success of a similar effort in Milwaukee from Dr. Danielle Spilotro, a talented and dedicated pediatrician at DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids who also happens to be my niece.
After the radio roadblock in Milwaukee in 2001, no cases of Shaken Baby Syndrome were reported for three months. In Grand Rapids, a smaller market than Milwaukee, the hospitals saw four cases of Shaken Baby Syndrome in 2006 and eight cases so far this year.
Broadcasters interested in replicating this successful campaign can acquire the media kit and the audio CD here for $60. Sixty bucks and sixty seconds of airtime aren’t much to spend to save a lot of innocent lives.