Keeping children safe is one of the best ways to show they are treasured, say the Child and Youth Mortality Review Committee (CYMRC) and Safekids New Zealand. CYMRC operates under the umbrella of the Health Quality & Safety Commission and reviews the deaths of children and young people aged from 28 days to 24 years old.
Children’s Day is this Sunday, 4 March, and Dr Nick Baker (CYMRC) and Ann Weaver (Safekids) are encouraging families to consider how safe their children are at home, around moving vehicles, and in the presence of alcohol.
“It’s a day for families to have fun together but it’s also a good opportunity to show children they are valued by making sure they are not exposed to risks they can’t manage,” says Dr Baker.
A report by CYMRC last year found that on average four to five children die in driveway accidents in New Zealand annually – and for every child killed by a vehicle moving at low speed, another 12 are hospitalised.
Another CYMRC report on the role of alcohol in the deaths of children and young people found that young people frequently died as a result of other people’s drinking and subsequent behaviour.
Safekids called for greater use of car seats, legal requirements for councils to monitor swimming pool fencing, and reduced access to lethal poisons. “These interventions have helped improve child mortality rates,” Ms. Weaver said.
Dr Baker says there are still worrying trends.
“For example, boys are over-represented in injury and death statistics. CYMRC also thinks alcohol use and drug-taking by parents and caregivers is contributing more to child injury rates than people realise, and it is concerned by research suggesting children in New Zealand’s most deprived environments are nearly eight times more likely to be admitted to hospital with injuries than children living in the most advantaged environments.
“So while Children’s Day is a time to enjoy, it’s also a timely reminder of the work we need to do keep all children safe, regardless of where they live and how old they are,” says Dr Baker.