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Thumbs down: Keeping children safe is full-time job for their caregivers

Oct. 22, 2013 @ 11:49 PM

The latest report from Ohio’s annual Child Fatality Review had one significant positive finding: The number of child deaths reported in that state in recent years is trending downward.

But the report, when combined with results from previous years, also showed a nagging trend that should be a wake-up call for all parents or guardians of children. While overall deaths are down, the percentage of them that are considered “probably preventable” continues in the range of about 20 percent or more. That’s simply too many.
The report released last week by the Ohio Department of Health and Ohio Children’s Trust Fund found that the number of fatalities in 2011 was 1,591, down nearly 10 percent from the 1,760 children who died in 2007. But the report concluded that 23 percent of the deaths in 2011 — or more than 350 — were probably preventable.

The causes of those deaths varied. Accidents, homicides (often by a family member), poisonings (often from drugs taken intentionally by teens and drugs left out where small children could find and ingest them), child abuse and neglect were among the factors. One of the commonly cited circumstances in infants’ sleep-related deaths was that the children were in a bed with an adult when they died and thus were suffocated inadvertently.

The lesson to parents and guardians is that keeping children safe from harm requires constant care and attention — and what should be a natural instinct of protecting offspring rather than endangering them. That requires tending to physical needs and protections, but also to children’s mental health.

The lessons from the Ohio report, of course, do not apply to the Buckeye State alone. No matter where we live, our children’s well-being should be a No. 1 priority. If we keep that at the forefront, fewer children will die needlessly.

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