Heartening Statistics

Children in the United States lead safer lives today than they did a few decades ago, thanks to consumer-protection measures and watchful parents.

A Columbia University researcher took a look at the data and found that accidental deaths among younger children, one to four years old, dropped 57 percent between 1960 and 1990 - from 44 deaths per 100,000 children in 1960 to 18.6 in 1990. For older youngsters, up to 14, the rate of decline was 48 percent.

Complete statistics are available only up to 1990, but the trend is believed to have continued since then.

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For its part, the federal government introduced a host of measures to protect children. These decades have seen the heyday of the US consumer protection movement. Toys and children's furniture, such as cribs, were made safer. States passed laws obligating parents to put young children in safety seats in cars. Some required older children to wear safety belts.

Such government measures helped prevent tragedies. So did the heightened liability concerns of businesses, which became more careful in their offerings to children.

But Sherry Glied, a professor with Columbia's School of Public Health, regards as even more important the fact that parents have used newly available knowledge of potential dangers to steer their children away from possible hazards. For instance, in New York City many families, or their landlords, installed window guards on apartment windows.

Good work, moms, dads, and society at large.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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