Saturday, January 14, 2012


I waited, I watched, I am Pleased
You should check this link to see when the show is repeated. It will also be archived at the CBC TV site. (Repeat airtimes)

This long awaited documentary was better than I had hoped! This has been the most significant public awareness vehicle to date, to alert Canada to the possibilities of unjust allegations and convictions with regard to Shaken Baby Syndrome.

The Fifth Estate investigative team, the production crew, and Gillian Findlay are a class act. They researched both sides of this controversial issue and they allowed both sides to speak. Yet it was clear enough on which side of the diagnostic/judicial conundrum Fifth Estate stood.

Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) is a medical diagnosis based on the presence of a diagnostic triad: (1) retinal bleeding, (2) bleeding in the protective layer of the brain, and (3) brain swelling. During the past twenty years this has been the preferred diagnosis. It was formulaic. These injuries in a child were considered conclusive evidence of a shaken baby. Every shaken baby has a shaker. A shaker has committed a criminal offence punishable upon conviction.  But WAIT!

In Toronto, one of Jeffrey Smith’s twin daughters, born very prematurely and struggling to live in their early months, died while in his sole care one day eighteen years ago. He went to prison after being tried for murder but sentenced for manslaughter. This was one of two heart-wrenching stories featured last night. Recently he was exonerated.That little girl died of natural causes. Jeff's life has changed forever. His other daughter is eighteen years of age now and he has never seen her. She was raised by her mom who although she was not present when the little girl died, was convinced by the police that the father was responsible. She did not appear on air.

Zabeth and Paul Bayne of Surrey, BC, had charges dropped in 2007 but their three children were removed from them because of suspicion that one of them had injured their youngest child. She did not die. She was gravely ill for a long while. She too had been born with some prematurity but in a household accident at seven weeks of age she had also been struck by a sibling as he fell on her while running. That explanation did not wash with authorities, both law enforcement and medical. A pediatrician diagnosed her as a ‘Shaken Baby.’ RCMP dropped initial charges due to insufficient evidence but the Ministry of Children understandably continued to consider the parents a risk. Not understandable was the Ministry’s unwillingness to ask for a second opinion - a disinclination to entertain the possibility there may be another explanation for her injuries. It took four (4) years and everything that this determined couple could give in order to win a verdict that they were not responsible for the child’s injuries and to have their children returned to them this past year, four years after the saga began.

Fifth Estate considerately, wisely held off the broadcast of this show until the Bayne family was no longer under the review period assigned for the first three months that the children were back with their parents. The Baynes were not vindictive in the interview. They plainly expressed how the ordeal had affected them personally and how helpless they had been within a child protection system that assumes guilt until proven innocent. Last night’s show may become a resource to prevent other innocent and grieving parents from being presumed guilty.


  1. I find it dis-heartning to know that parents are continously being presumed GUILTY rather then innocent, its a backwards system. A system where all are to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, unfortunately this is not the case anymore in Canada. I am appalled, at how many parents have been convicted of Shaken Baby when there can be other medical reasons for the injuries. It is so sad to see.

  2. I tried to click on the play button but I'm unable to watch the clip - I live and Canada. Is it closed now?

  3. I tried viewing the show several times on a PC using various internet browsers without success. Finally, on a Mac using Safari I was able to view the show. There may be a limit on the number of simultaneous viewers.

    It is indeed gratifying to have some National attention on the problem. Those of us very familiar with child protection will find lack of depth in the story, with the focus on tugging on viewer heart strings rather than the underlying cause and asking questions of the diagnosing doctors, and why police, doctors and child protection authorities are so vigorous in assuming and pursuing guilt.

  4. It should work fine if you live in Canada. I guess sometimes there might be too many trying to view at once. Maybe it will work if you try again.

    By the way the interviews can be viewed worldwide.

  5. It's harsh, but, what can be done? Not enough? Or too much? Not suspicious enough or over zealous when it comes to kids?

    We need better protocols and systems, not less suspicion


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