Back to School Safety

by Leslie Morgan Steiner


It’s among the worst things that can happen to a family: serious injury or death of a child. No good parent WANTS a child to get hurt. Almost everyone I know considers children’s safety one of the foremost obligations of parenthood.


So…Can you name the top causes of death and injury during childhood?


If you can’t, don’t feel badly. Most parents are with you. Maybe parents don’t want to face the real risks, writer Lisa Belkin argued recently in The New York Times’ “Keeping Kids Safe From the Wrong Dangers”. Maybe parental brains are terrible at calculating risks.


Talking about deadly risks to our beloveds IS devastating, of course. But to me, facing an actual death or serious injury, and the fact that you might have prevented the trauma, seems far more disturbing. I figure if you know the facts, you can improve your chances of avoiding the risks. So here are the top five causes of injury to children up to age 18, according to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control:


1) Car accidents


2) Homicide (usually involving a person the child knows or is related to)


3) Child Abuse


4) Suicide


5) Drowning


For children under five, according to Safe Kids USA, the top three preventable injuries are: car accidents, head injuries, and accidental drownings.


Many of these injuries and deaths are preventable. Mandating that kids under your care use seatbelts, car seats and bike helmets, talking about pool safety and making sure you or other adults always supervise kids swimming, childproofing your house, paying attention to problems the children under your purview face -- these all decrease the risk of serious harm to a population that cannot protect itself.