Did you know that according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), injuries and accidents are the leading cause of death of children and teenagers in the United States? In 2009, for example, over 9,000 individuals 19 and under were killed due to accidental injuries. Further, nearly 9 million children are injured in unintended accidents in each year, causing them to seek medical treatment in emergency rooms nationwide.
While no parent wants to receive a phone call that his or her child was hurt or involved in an accident, the good thing is that many child injuries are actually preventable. Organizations like the CDC, Safe Kids Worldwide, and the National Child Safety Council are dedicated to raising awareness of safety issues, educating the public, and taking action designed to keep children safe. Efforts to raise awareness and educate the public are aimed at people all across society – children, parents, guardians, teachers, administrators, public officials, and more.
Common sources of child injuries include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Choking and strangulation
- Fire and burn injuries
- Playground accidents
- Sports and athletics
- Defective car seats
- Underage drinking
- Drinking and driving
- Drug addiction
- Daycare injuries
- Child abuse
- Sexual abuse
Schools are trusted to look after children. When parents drop their kids off at school, they expect them to be safe and come home in one piece, and all parents dread getting a phone call from the school to learn that their child suffered some type of injury. School accidents take many forms, such as lab accidents, sports injuries, and slip and falls. Thus, school administrators and teachers must undergo training regarding school safety, OSHA standards, first aid, and more.Car & Bus Safety
Between 2002-2011, more than 9,000 kids under the age of 12 were killed in car accidents. While many auto accidents are caused by drivers not paying attention, certain factors play a large role when it comes to child injuries. For example, children should always be properly restrained, either in a car seat, booster seat, or seatbelt. School bus accidents also commonly affect children. Some of these crashes are caused by school bus companies hiring unqualified drivers or not providing proper training to their employees.Pedestrian & Bike Safety
Drivers should always be on the lookout for cyclists and pedestrians. Children, unfortunately, are at a higher risk of getting hit by a car, as drivers may not see them due to their size. Kids should always look both ways before crossing the street, use crosswalks when available, and obey traffic signals. Parents should stress safety when it comes to crossing the street and riding/walking alongside cars, and for young children, parents should hold their hand and cross with them. For bicycle riders, helmets and safety gear should always be worn.Household & Product Safety
Organizations like the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) regulate household products, such as toys, furniture, food, everyday items, and pharmaceutical drugs, to ensure they are safe. Unsafe products can cause physical harm and illnesses. While companies must follow these standards to create safe products, parents can also take steps to ensure safety at the house. For example, parents can keep potentially hazardous products (like cleaning supplies) out of the reach of young children.Substance Abuse
While drugs and alcohol are dangerous for all people, they present unique issues for children and teenagers. For starters, they can suffer developmental problems and cognitive impairment. Further, those who begin using drugs and alcohol at a young age are more likely to become addicted to those substances and try more deadly drugs later in life. Making kids and teens aware of the dangers of drugs and alcohol and educating them are positive steps that can reduce drug and alcohol use at a young age.Bullying & Violence
Bullying is a disturbing trend. While it can happen just about anywhere, it is prevalent in schools, playgrounds, and even on the Internet. Common forms of bullying include taunting, name-calling, spreading rumors, making rude gestures, tripping, and hitting someone else, and in 2015, it was reported over 21% of students between the ages of 12-18 experienced bullying at school. Youth violence goes beyond common forms of bullying, and it can include fights, use of weapons, and gang-related violence. Schools, law enforcement agencies, nonprofit organizations, and community stakeholders play large roles in trying to reduce youth violence.Dangers of Child Injuries
Child safety tips can apply to parents of newborn babies, toddlers, infants, pre-teens, and teenagers. Of course, different steps can be taken depending on the age of the child. For instance, babyproofing the house may be needed for young children, while a discussion on the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse could be had with a teenager. In any event, awareness of the issues is the first step in promoting child safety at home, school, public parks, places of business, and just about everywhere else.
What makes child safety so important is that one injury can impact the rest of a child or teenager’s life. Physical harm like severe burns, broken bones, and brain injuries can affect the child’s ability to succeed in school, participate in extracurricular activities, and continue to grow mentally and intellectually. Drug and alcohol addiction are equally as dangerous and could lead to developmental defects, organ damage, or even death. Moreover, injuries result in the child missing school and other activities due to hospital visits and doctor checkups.
In the context of child injuries, the child is not the only victim. Unfortunately, members of the child’s support system (friends, parents, siblings, family members) can be affected as well. Parents, guardians, and caretakers are given the critical responsibility of watching after young ones and providing structure to prevent them from getting hurt. To do so, parents can take an active role in their kids’ lives, look out for potential signs of injury or abuse, keep dangerous products out of their reach, and make sure they wear the proper gear when participating in sports or activities.
To help keep your children and loved ones safe, please refer to the following resources: