Virginia parents who send their kids to co-operative pre-schools may soon be required to undergo nearly a week of training. As Ilya Shapiro writes in The Federalist:
My wife and I are the proud (and exhausted) parents of two young sons, and we live in Falls Church, Virginia. Our oldest is “two half” and will be starting a “cooperative” preschool down the street this September. That means we volunteer in his classroom and help run the school—charity auction, field trip transportation, etc.—and in return we save on tuition. It’s a win-win..
Currently, co-oping parents in Virginia must undergo four hours of annual training before they can volunteer in the classroom—basic things like first aid and certain laws relevant to child care. As reported by the Washington Post, however, the Virginia Department of Social Services is considering regulations that would require co-oping parents instead to undergo approximately 30 hours of training—just to help in the classroom a few hours each month, completing daunting tasks like passing out snacks and sweeping the floors.
Yup. That's overboard. But even worse than the amount of training is this:
The training includes topics like preventing shaken-baby syndrome ...
STOP! STOP! STOP!
The assumption that Shaken Baby Syndrome is pervasive has sent hundreds of devastated parents to prison for a crime they did not commit. Susan Goldsmith is a journalist who made a documentary called The Syndrome. She told us in an email:
Many states have passed laws requiring those who are in contact with young children and infants undergo training to prevent shaken baby syndrome. The parents and caretakers cannot get out of it even though shaken baby syndrome is a deeply flawed diagnosis that research has shown again and again is scientifically and forensically unreliable...There are an estimated 1,000 innocent people in America's prisons convicted on what broad scientific research across many disciplines has shown to be junk science.
An unlike other wrongfully convicted people in DNA cases, there is no test to prove you are innocent. Law professors like Deborah Tuerkheimer at Northwestern have written about the need for state innocence panels to deal with the numbers of wrongfully convicted people in shaken baby cases.
Legally mandated materials to prevent parents from shaking children to death are trademarked and sold to hospitals and childcare centers the tune of millions of dollars largely from the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome in Utah. Beyond the underlying scientific problems with shaken baby syndrome, the idea that you can prevent a serious crime from reading brochures and watching videos is absurd.
So, Virginia: You can start whittling down those 30 hours by tossing the Shaken Baby lesson. And keep going from there.
Photo from @rawpixel at Unsplash.