THE MEDILL JUSTICE PROJECT’S STUDY SHOWS MEN FAR MORE LIKELY THAN WOMEN TO BE ACCUSED OF VIOLENTLY SHAKING INFANTS

Results mark first finding from long-term U.S. database research on shaken-baby syndrome cases

EVANSTON, Ill., Aug. 27, 2013 – Men are nearly three times more likely than women to be accused of violently shaking an infant, The Medill Justice Project reports in a story published today on www.medilljusticeproject.org .

Out of nearly 3,000 cases nationwide, 72.5 percent of those accused of shaken-baby syndrome crimes are men, while 27.5 percent are women, The Medill Justice Project discovered in its first published finding in more than a year of research on this largely opaque criminal justice issue. Shaken-baby syndrome crimes involve caregivers who are accused of inflicting severe head trauma on children, typically under the age of 2, causing a triad of symptoms—brain bleeding, brain swelling and bleeding within the eye.

Experts interviewed about the gender discrepancy point to more than one cause for why so many more men than women are accused of shaken-baby syndrome crimes. With new national data on gender, hospitals and advocacy organizations may be better equipped to provide shaken-baby syndrome prevention resources to men and women. Only a handful of major organizations target men and women differently in their shaken-baby syndrome prevention efforts.

Working with undergraduate journalism students at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications, The Medill Justice Project identified and confirmed more than 3,600 cases of shaken-baby syndrome by running defendant names and other identifiers through proprietary legal databases, cross-referencing them with police, appellate court and medical records, where available. More than 30 sources provided The Medill Justice Project with case information.

The Medill Justice Project plans to make its national shaken-baby syndrome database available to the public. With the help of a team of engineering graduate students at Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering, The Medill Justice Project database is tracking and confirming nearly 40 categories of information on thousands of cases, with gender being the first. After another category is confirmed, the first phase of the database will be released on its website for researchers, journalists and others as a public service.

The Alumnae of Northwestern University's Gifts and Grants Committee awarded The Medill Justice Project a generous grant to support its research on the creation of its national database on shaken-baby syndrome cases.

About The Medill Justice Project

The Medill Justice Project is an investigative journalism enterprise that examines potentially wrongful convictions, probes national systemic criminal-justice issues and conducts groundbreaking research. As journalists, we advocate only for the truth. Founded at Northwestern University in 1999 as the Medill Innocence Project, we changed our name on Dec. 20, 2012, to The Medill Justice Project to better reflect our journalistic mission.

About Medill

Medill was founded in 1921 and offers programs in journalism and integrated marketing communications. It teaches new techniques essential in today's digital world. Medill is leading the way in training a new generation of multimedia journalists and integrated marketing communications professionals. The Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications at Northwestern University is named after Joseph Medill, a newspaper man and former Mayor of Chicago.

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For more information:

Belinda Clarke
Director of communications and alumni relations
Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications
(847) 491-3636

Megan Thielking
Reporter
(574) 250-3342
MeganThielking2015@u.northwestern.edu

Alec Klein
Director, The Medill Justice Project
(847) 467-4476
alec-klein@northwestern.edu

Amanda Westrich
Research associate, The Medill Justice Project
(847) 491-5840
amanda.westrich@northwestern.edu

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About Us

Medill was founded in 1921 and offers programs in journalism and integrated marketing communications. It teaches new techniques essential in today's digital world. Medill is leading the way in training a new generation of multimedia journalists and integrated marketing communications professionals. The Medill School of Journalism, Media, Integrated Marketing Communications at Northwestern University is named after Joseph Medill, a newspaper man and former Mayor of Chicago.

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