A Shaken Baby Syndrome prevention programme has been launched in Whangarei to be used by a range of family and health agencies, including Northland District Health Board, Child Youth and Family, Plunket and Police.

The message that an adult has to be strong enough to never shake a baby was reinforced at a ceremony at Manaia Health this month to introduce to Northland the national Shaken Baby Prevention Programme.

Northland is the 13th district board in New Zealand to implement the programme which comes with a DVD, pamphlets and other material, and is incorporated into health, education and welfare services for parents and infants.

"We have to teach our families how to keep children safe," CYF regional operations manager Colleen McLea said.


"This [prevention programme] is an important tool in reminding parents and caregivers to have the strength to never shake a baby and reminding us that people often need support in learning to be parents.

"A lot of people just don't understand what shaking means or can do."

The DVD that is part of the programme leaves no-one in any doubt about the brain and other physical damage that can occur when a baby's brain and neck stem are shaken.

Karen Towns, who works for NDHB in a violence prevention role, coordinated the board signing up to the existing national programme and re-invigorating local drives to prevent Shaken Baby Syndrome and other infant harm.

"I knew we needed it up here," Ms Towns said.