Shaken Baby Syndrome is a term with which we are all familiar. Widely known and accepted as a violent shaking of an infant, causing brain damage and/or death, we intermittently hear about it in the news, seeing testimonies of those accused of such crimes. To think that a new life has been snuffed out because of a parent or caregiver’s frustration is unthinkable. We all shake our own heads in disbelief that someone could do such a thing, readily accepting the guilt of those adult faces. But according to this new documentary, “The Syndrome,” by Susan Goldsmith and Meryl Goldsmith, the “facts” are false. The film brings us into the science behind this phenomena as well as the common sense about this syndrome, allowing us to come to our own conclusions. It’s a heart wrenching and unbelievable story of lives lost and those punished for a truly impossible crime.
“The Syndrome” thoroughly investigates the history behind the “discovery” of this syndrome, those responsible for coining the term, and the on-going research to easily disprove it. Within the first 10 minutes of the film, we see the writing on the wall as easily as reading a neon sign in the dark. Common sense and science do not support the diagnosis. So how could this continue to be a relevant issue in today’s society? “The Syndrome” gives us just the answer to that question in shocking and horrifying detail. As a parent watching this film, it is almost beyond comprehension that this witch hunt could occur in the current day.
Interviews with leading pathologists, pediatricians, and neurosurgeons point out a few key factors that show us how we put doctors in the position of reporting suspected cases. About 40 years ago, Dr. John Caffey, a radiologist, stated that if you saw three specific signs in a baby, it could be nothing other than Shaken Baby Syndrome. In the following 40 years, the research actually shows that these three symptoms are indicative of over 30 other possible causes such as vitamin K deficiency, Reye’s Syndrome, or sudden respiratory distress, for example. Unfortunately, laws dictated doctors to report suspected abuse if they saw the three symptoms. Many times, these children were already sick. Additionally, Dr. Ayub Ommaya proved with solid scientific research that this “whiplash” type of brain damage must co-occur with cervical or neck damage as well. As medical pathologist Dr. John Plunkett stated, he has never seen neck damage in a “documented” case of Shaken Baby Syndrome. Never. This all seems like common sense, but as you learn in this film, common sense has no place with huge money-making corporations that benefit from this syndrome.
The film continues to delve more deeply into the fight to make judges, police, lawyers and the general population aware of what the truth so blatantly seems to be. Unfortunately, as “The Syndrome” points out, hundreds of innocent caregivers are still being charged with child abuse or homicide due to Shaken Baby Syndrome. We hear from the accused and how it has impacted their lives, some being incarcerated. Imagine losing a child AND being convicted for the murder of this child, unjustly so. The consequences of following inaccurate information are truly horrific.
Creatively using interviews as well as graphics to educate the viewer, “The Syndrome” succinctly conveys all the necessary information without making us feel we are part of a Ph.D program. Relevant documents, newspaper clippings, and footage from interrogations make this documentary come to life, allowing us to not only understand the material at hand, but to also emotionally grasp what’s being presented. Skillful editing creates a linear story that is both artistic and educational.
“The Syndrome” is a thorough and intelligent look at our criminal justice system, medical science, and Shaken Baby Syndrome continues to be a part of our society. Seeing the dedication of those behind fighting this worthy fight is inspirational. It’s a film that is enlightening, maddening, and thought-provoking, but most importantly, it gives us awareness and educates us. Rarely do you find a film that can do all that, but when you do, you must see it.
For more information about this film go to www.thesyndromefilm.com
If you are a lawyer or part of a law firm and would like to bring this film to your office, go to www.resetfilms.com/hostascreening/
See this film now on VOD (Video On Demand) through digital platforms such as Amazon and iTunes!