During a Red Cross babysitting course, seventh-grade students were upset that Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) was not addressed. So when their social studies class was going to engage in a service-learning project (using the Project Citizen model to develop and propose public policy), the students decided to focus on educating people about SBS.
The students began by surveying peers to determine how much they already knew about SBS. They were shocked to find out that more than half of their peers knew nothing about SBS. The students then set out to learn everything they could about SBS so that they could educate others, especially potential babysitters. They spoke with local experts on SBS, pediatricians, and the local Red Cross. After researching into the causes and prevention of SBS, the students proposed a new public health policy requiring that SBS education be included in all babysitting courses. The students presented their policy to local decision-makers and the local Red Cross. The local Red Cross was impressed by the students’ work and readily adapted its babysitting course to include SBS information.
Knowing there was more to be done to educate people about SBS, the students continued work on their project as eighth graders. With help from the local Red Cross and national SBS experts, the students created an informational brochure about SBS. After securing a grant to print their brochures, the students gave the brochures to local doctors’ offices, school nurses’ offices and the local Red Cross (so that it could distribute the brochures to potential babysitters and expectant parents). The students also shared their brochure and SBS information at several state and national conferences.