It’s that time of year again: summer is starting to wind down and students are returning to the classroom. Parents are inundated with information packets from schools covering an array of topics. Shopping for supplies and new clothes, completing enrollment and medical forms, registering for classes, signing up for sports and other extra-curricular activities, and coordinating the family schedules can become overwhelming. With all that’s coming at them, it’s easy for parents to overlook the critical issues of health and safety for their children.
Children need to be safe and healthy to learn at school. Talk to younger children about getting to and from school safely: walking on sidewalks, crossing at crosswalks, wearing helmets when riding bikes, and watching out for drivers who may not see them.
Talk to teenagers about safe driving. One in three teen deaths in the United States is the result of a motor vehicle collision. Teens are more likely than experienced drivers to underestimate or not recognize dangerous situations when driving. Teens are more likely to speed and tailgate. The presence of male teenage passengers increases the likelihood of risky driving behavior. Teenagers have the lowest rate of seat belt use compared with all other age groups. In 2005, 10% of high school students reported they rarely or never wear seat belts when riding with someone else. Male high school students (12.5%) were more likely than female students (7.8%) to rarely or never wear seat belts.
School playgrounds are also sources of injury. Each year, emergency departments in the United States treat more than 200,000 children ages 14 and younger for playground-related injuries. Organized sports also come with the risk for injury, sometimes very serious. Be sure to read through and discuss information about playground and sports safety provided by the Center for Disease Control in their toolkit, Heads Up: Concussion in High School Sports.
So be sure your child’s back to school list includes things like a helmet, a seatbelt, and a meaningful conversation about safety at school, on the roadway, playground and athletic field.
Source: Centers for Disease Control
 Jonah BA, Dawson NE. Youth and risk: age differences in risky driving, risk perception, and risk utility. Alcohol, Drugs and Driving 1987;3:13B29.
 Simons-Morton B, Lerner N, Singer J. The observed effects of teenage passengers on the risky driving behavior of teenage drivers. Accident Analysis and Prevention.
 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Youth Risk Behavior SurveillanceCUnited States, 2007 [Online]. (2009). National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (producer). [Cited 2009 Nov 6 ].