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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
These days, children begin using technology at an early age, and that includes the Internet. Tech-savvy children and teens have numerous ways to get online, including computers, gaming systems, tablets, and smartphones. Many children are too young to perceive many of the risks associated with Internet use. While web developers must comply with federal laws aimed at protecting minors, parents can monitor their children’s web activity to protect against identity theft, viruses, and cyber bullying.
When it comes to child safety, parents should know they are not alone. Public officials and community stakeholders share a common goal of fostering a safe environment for children of all ages and backgrounds. Further, national safety organizations exist to increase awareness of safety issues and provide tips on how to keep our youth out of harm’s way. To learn more about these safety organizations, visit their websites, and read about strategies for protecting children, visit this section.
In terms of protecting infants, children, and teenagers, knowledge is power. It is important to recognize that most child injuries can be prevented as long as reasonable measures are taken by parents, family members, educators, babysitters, and others who supervise children. Visit this section to learn about other ways in which a child can be placed in harm’s way. This section also provides safety tips parents and others in the community can follow to prevent accidents from happening in the first place.