Saturday, October 11, 2014

Shaken baby syndrome: Documentary comes under attack by child abuse professionals before it has even been screened; They seek to have its Kansas International Film Festival "premiere" cancelled; The screening is set for tomorrow (Sunday 12 October); "On SBS". (Must Read. HL);

POST: ""The Syndrome" trailer makes waves,"  by Sue Luttner, published by  her Blog "On SBS" on  October 10, 2014.

GIST: "Based on the trailer and publicity posted on the film’s web site, a group of child abuse professionals has written to the Kansas International Film Festival (KIFF) requesting that organizers cancel Sunday’s premiere screening of The Syndrome, a documentary about the debate surrounding shaken baby theory. KIFF organizers received two letters earlier this week, one from the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome (NCSBS) that calls the film’s promotional materials “appalling, inaccurate, and potentially dangerous” and worries that viewers might get the impression that shaking a baby is not harmful, so that “numerous infants could be put in significant danger.”.........The move to block The Syndrome isn’t surprising, after all the grief the film received from speakers at last month’s NCSBS conference. Political science professor Ross Cheit from Brown University, for example, in his talk “‘Exonerating’ the Guilty: Child Abuse and the Corruption of the False Conviction Movement,” characterized The Syndrome as “a love letter” to three defense experts. He said it was “a defense lawyer’s dream . . .  you get to put on your testimony and there’s no cross-examination.” He objected to the term used in the trailer, “shaken baby syndrome industrial complex,” which he said shows “incredible arrogance and remarkable ignorance” on the part of the filmmakers because, “Child abuse is not where the money is. Child abuse defense is where the money is.”.........Presumably the KIFF organizers and judges made their choices carefully, both when they included The Syndrome in their program and when they nominated it for a jury award. I haven’t seen the film yet, but I hope it addresses some of the troubling questions that have raged around shaken baby syndrome for decades now—and I doubt the take-home message is really that shaking a baby is safe. As for protecting the children:  I am concerned about the infants who are denied the medical care they need when a hasty diagnosis of abuse stops the search for the medical conditions that underly many cases of brain bleeding and swelling with no outward signs of trauma, as well as the siblings who are torn unnecessarily from loving homes. I am especially concerned about the cavalier opinion that household falls do not cause serious injury or death. I wish that parents were warned not only about shaking infants but also about dropping them. While most falls do not cause major injury, lives could be saved and injuries prevented if we started installing mats and carpeting next to changing tables and play areas. We simply do not know enough about infant neurobiology to support the definitive statements about shaking that have been winning in court for 30 years.""

The entire post  can be found at:

See  related Kansas City Jewish Chronicle story: "Filmmaker Meryl Goldsmith teams with award-winning investigative reporter Susan Goldsmith, who happens to be her first cousin, on this film. “The Syndrome” is described as an explosive documentary following the crusade of a group of doctors, scientists and legal scholars who have uncovered that shaken baby syndrome, a child abuse theory responsible for hundreds of prosecutions each year in the United States, is not scientifically valid. In fact, they say, it does not even exist. Together the Goldsmith cousins document the unimaginable nightmare for those accused and shine a light on the men and women dedicating their lives to defending the prosecuted and freeing the convicted. As “The Syndrome” uncovers the origins of the myth of shaken baby syndrome, the film identifies those who have built careers and profited from this theory along with revealing their shocking pasts. According to the filmmakers, shaken baby proponents are determined to silence their critics while an unthinkable number of lives are ruined. The 87-minute documentary is nominated for the festival’s Jury Award for the Best Social Justice Documentary. The jury winners will be announced just before “The Syndrome’s” premiere on Oct. 12. Audiences will also vote on their favorite documentary and narrative films. Those awards will be announced at the conclusion of the festival."


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