Parents need more help to keep kids safe from accidents

Accident deaths across all age groups are rising, according to RoSPA.
Accident deaths across all age groups are rising, according to RoSPA.

Most parents are unaware that accidents cause the most deaths of children and young people aged 0-19, according to research conducted for the 100th anniversary of UK safety charity the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents.

While nearly one in three parents (30 per cent) correctly identified that accidents are the top killer in this age group in the UK, the majority of parents (61 per cent) thought other causes of death, including cancer or intentional self-harm/suicide, were most prevalent or said they didn’t know what caused the most deaths.

Latest mortality figures reveal that accidents remain the biggest cause of death of children and young people aged 0-19. Across the UK in 2015, accidents claimed the lives of 405 children and young people in this age group, ahead of congenital conditions (385) and cancer (370).

Despite this, the RoSPA-commissioned YouGov survey of 1,007 parents of children aged 18 and under across Great Britain also found that nearly a third of parents (30 per cent) have never received or sought advice or information about keeping their child(ren) safe from accidents. But more than half (55 per cent) agreed that there should be more information and advice for parents about keeping children safe from accidents and 57 per cent said that information should be easier to find. Of those surveyed who had received or sought safety information, 51 per cent said that it should be easier to understand.

One in three parents (33 per cent) said they worried all the time or fairly often that their child(ren) would be seriously injured in an accident that required hospital treatment.

The online survey found that talking to friends or family is the most common way in which accident prevention information and advice is sought or received (mentioned by 32 per cent of parents), followed by leaflets (22 per cent), home visits by professionals (16 per cent), the news (16 per cent), parenting blogs/forums (13 per cent) and social media (13 per cent).

Of parents surveyed who said that accident prevention information and advice should be more readily available, leaflets were the most popular choice for how this help could be passed on (mentioned by 61 per cent of parents), followed by adverts (50 per cent), posters (47 per cent), talks/discussion groups (46 per cent) and the news (44 per cent).

RoSPA’s 100th anniversary comes as the total number of accidental deaths across all age groups in the UK rose by six per cent from 15,413 in 2014 to 16,333 in 2015. Most of these accidental deaths occurred in leisure time and in the home.

RoSPA is marking its centenary with a programme of events and activities beginning on December 1 and continuing throughout 2017. Not only will it be looking back at what has been achieved but also looking ahead to the challenges that still exist within accident prevention.

To mark the start of the centenary year on December 1:

Lifeline, a freephone telephone helpline, will begin operating so parents and carers have someone they can talk to if they need accident prevention help - 0808 801 0822

The Brighter Beginnings Appeal will be launched, raising money for Parent Packs, which will be distributed via RoSPA’s partners

A new Parent Hub will be unveiled on RoSPA’s website to give parents and carers, particularly of under-5s, a one-stop-shop of key accident prevention information and advice.

Errol Taylor, RoSPA’s deputy chief executive, said: “The results of our survey show that we still have some way to go to help parents understand accidents and how they can be prevented. Parents have told us that they want more information and advice to help them keep their children safe and this, coupled with the fact that accidents continue to cause the most deaths of children and young people, means we must act. Our work over the past 100 years has taught us that accidents do not have to happen, and that’s why we’re stepping up our activities to help parents and carers keep kids safe. As part of this, we’re encouraging people to join our conversation - we need parents of all ages to learn from each other by sharing ideas and experience, and to spread the message that accidents don’t have to happen.

“We’re also co-ordinating the National Accident Prevention Strategy Advisory Group to ensure accident prevention becomes a much higher, strategic public health priority, which is crucial if we’re to achieve a real breakthrough in saving lives and reducing injuries.”

RoSPA dates back to the First World War when, following a public meeting on December 1, 1916 at Caxton Hall in London, a campaign was launched to cut pedestrian deaths during black-out conditions. A new “rule of the footpath” was promoted in which people were encouraged to walk on the left-hand side of footpaths so they faced oncoming traffic and it is credited with a 70 per cent fall in fatal accidents in which a pedestrian was struck by the near-side of a car within a year.

Mr Taylor added: “We’re proud of our First World War beginnings and that efforts to save lives on our roads during this challenging time were successful. Now, 100 years later, we remain as determined as ever to stop unnecessary death and injury and the related heartache and suffering that continues to devastate families. There have been big falls in the numbers of people killed or injured in accidents on the roads and in workplaces, and we’re proud to have been part of strategic safety efforts in these areas. But we know that our job is far from done. For example, accidents in the home, where young children and older people are particularly at risk, remain a major challenge.”