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An Open Letter to Apple and AT&T Boards of Directors

TO: Board of Directors of Apple, Inc. Mr. Tim Cook, Mr. Steve Jobs, Mr. William Campbell, Mr. Millard Drexler, Vice President Al Gore, Ms. Andrea Jung, Mr. Arthur Levinson, Mr. Eric Schmidt, Mr. Jerome York

Board of Directors of AT&T, Inc. Mr. Randall Stephenson, Mr. William Aldinger, Mr. Gilbert Amelio, Mr. Reuben Anderson, Mr. James Blanchard, Mr. August Busch III, Mr. Jaime Chico Pardo, Mr. James P. Kelly, Mr. Jon Madonna, Ms. Lynn Martin, Mr. John McCoy, Ms. Mary Metz, Ms. Joyce Roche, Ms. Laura D’Andrea Tyson, Ms. Patricia Upton

CC: Desmond Runyan, M.D., Dr.Ph, Chair, Department of Social Medicine and Director, Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program, The University of North Carolina School of Medicine;Robert Murphy, Ph.D., Executive Director, Center for Child & Family Health, Duke University

FROM: Patrick B. Donohue, Esq.Founder, The Sarah Jane Brain Foundation

RE: OPEN LETTER to Apple Inc. and AT&T Inc. Boards of Directors

DATE: April 26, 2009

I would like to begin by making it perfectly clear: The Sarah Jane Brain Foundation will not be soliciting nor will it accept one penny from either Apple Inc. or AT&T Inc.

However, as I have previously written, we have very grave concerns about Apple and AT&T’s inactions regarding the recent “BABY SHAKER” application situation.

Right now there are potentially 1000s of ticking time bombs (we don’t know how many people actually downloaded the BABY SHAKER application); however, all it will take is one 13-year-old (like the child who downloaded your 1 billionth application) who learns from his iPhone the way to quiet his 6-week-old sister is by shaking her as hard and as fast as he can and completely altering this child’s life and his family.

As you can see from many of the comments about your removal of the application, there is a considerable audience who still considers the concept of shaking a baby to be funny! Your actions have reinforced this “funny” concept which is exactly what prevention organizations have been working to overcome for years.

And finally, your legalistic, generic apology was clearly not directed towards the many families and victims suffering every day from the consequences of Shaken Baby Syndrome.

Here are three very concrete proposals I hope you will strongly consider and will demonstrate that both of your organizations are taking your corporate responsibility seriously:

    1) work directly with Dr. Desmond Runyan and Dr. Robert Murphy (two of the leaders in the United States with preventing Shaken Baby Syndrome who are cc’d on this letter) to address the immediate children/adults who downloaded the “BABY SHAKER” app to ensure they have the proper understanding that shaking a baby to quiet a baby is wrong and harmful;

    2) [arrange for] Mr. Tim Cook to attend the 2-hour panel discussion Dr. Runyan is Chairing with other leading national experts about Prevention of Abusive Head Trauma on May 6, 2009, at The University of North Carolina Chapel Hill; this is part of our 15-city National PABI Heroes Tour;

    3) after the 2-hour panel discussion, announce a joint effort between Dr. Desmond Runyan (UNC-Chapel Hill), Dr. Robert Murphy (Duke), Apple and AT&T utilizing the creative and technological resources of Apple and AT&T to work on the Prevention of Shaken Baby Syndrome and to offer a personal apology to the families and victims of Shaken Baby Syndrome.

With any of these 1000s of ticking time bombs ready to go off, time is of the essence for your reply.

Patrick B. Donohue, Esq., is founder of The Sarah Jane Brain Foundation.


  • AT&T provides the wireless services for the phone, not the applications. Additionally, AT&T has no involvement in what is accepted (or not) by the Apple App Store.

    This is like suing an ISP because one of their subscribers sent an offensive email over their network.

    I (personally) agree that this app is in bad taste and potentially dangerous (think about a 6 year old playing the "game" on daddy’s phone, then trying to get baby brother to stop crying), but AT&T didn’t have anything to do with it.

    With all of the reports of how the App Store rejects apps, this would have been a non-issue if they would have just rejected it from the beginning.

    • I agree that the app should have not made it through to the app store, but I also think that people like Donohue who are putting letters out giving what if situations about a 13-year-old playing the app and really doing it are just giving more attention to the application when what we should do is just get rid of the app like apple did and then not bring so much publicity to the app. When you do this then there is more of a chance for children to hear it. Also just a side note: what 13-year-old has an iphone or ipod touch that their parents will let not only have but go and download games. Because I would like to have those parents. Also if the parents aren’t teaching their kids right from wrong we have a whole other issue on our hands.

      just another person wanting to bring attention to themselves and pointing the wrong fingers at the wrong people.

  • Really? Do you really think that teenagers will learn to murder babies from an iPhone game? You might as well put a stop to all violent videogames, movies, books and music. People know the difference between games and reality. Also, parents teach their children how to hold their siblings. This Donohue letter is just nonsense from someone who wants to jump on some bandwagon and make a name for himself.

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