Posts Tagged 'safety'

How Halloween Might Injure or Kill Your Kids

Mark Parisi from http://www.offthemark.com

Before you let your kids out of the house this Halloween, have you considered that they are more likely to be hit by a vehicle than at any other time of the year? Or have you seen the reports warning parents about the flammability of Halloween costumes? Oh, then we have to take into account that child molesters use this day to lure children into their homes. Also keep in mind that Health Canada is urging parents to let their children draw faces on their pumpkins instead of carving them – gasp – children might cut themselves.

Halloween is a great time of year to crank up parental fears.

Of course, we all know that crime is at historic lows. And that an unhealthy focus on safety paralyzes children from having any kind of fun. But that doesn’t seem to stop the fear mongers. For fun, I collected some of the best (or, worst) news headlines from this last week about Halloween fears.

Halloween makeup: safe or toxic?
Some parents may think the ghost-white makeup they slather on their kids’ faces this Halloween night is safe because of the “non-toxic” label on the package.

Forget Scary: It’s all About Caring in Calgary
Children wanting to wear scary, violent or blood drenched costumes will have to trade them in for more caring and community-friendly outfits at two public elementary schools in Calgary this Halloween.

The biggest Halloween scare? Emergency dental bills
After savouring a giant gumball, her son Benjamin snapped the spacer on his braces with a Sour Patch Kid. Next, it was Ms. Belanger’s turn: Having weakened her teeth on chocolate bars over Halloween, the Calgary mother of four cracked a tooth on a nut in an apple crisp – a root canal and crown would follow.

Smaller Halloween treats lead to larger eats
Treats packaged in Halloween-sized mini portions trick people into eating far more chocolate and candy than they otherwise would, researchers from the University of Alberta and University of British Columbia have found.

Brace for the most dangerous traffic night of the year for kids
While costume creation is in full gear, give a thought to something else: road safety. Studies from both the Centre for Disease Control in Atlanta and Safe Kids USA warn that Halloween is the most dangerous traffic night of the year for kids.

Sex offenders ordered to keep “lights out” on Halloween
The sex offenders must have their lights out and cannot answer the door on Monday night, unless their probation officer comes knocking.

Realistic toy guns can be dangerous around Halloween
Officials with the sheriff’s office want the public to be aware of the dangers and consequences of showing those weapons in public.

Is Halloween Too Scary?
Halloween is everywhere you look, but the scary decorations, costumes and traditions may be scaring your children more than you realize.

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The Paradox of Car Seats

On March 21, the American Pediatric Association (APA) announced new car seat regulations. The new guidelines will appear in the April 2011 issue of Pediatrics.

The APA now recommends that children should be rear facing until the age of two. The revised guidelines also urge parents to keep older children in booster seats until they are 145 centimeters tall and aged between 8 and 12 years old. As of today, the Canadian Pediatric Association has not followed suit. However, the change may soon be coming.

In 2009, the British Medical Journal published findings that recommended children should stay rear-facing until the age of four. In fact, in most Scandinavian countries, this is already law. This Swedish website offers some photos of children up to the age of five in rear-facing car seats (because, honestly, I had to wonder how this would look!)

My take on the issue. First, I want to make it clear that I do not renounce basic safety precautions. The question for me is, what do car seats say about us as parents? At the risk of sounding crass, here’s what I hear: Go ahead and put your children in a metal and plastic encasing – buckle them up really well – and then hurl them up to speeds of 120 km/hr. If there is an accident and they die, then there is a need to re-think how we buckle them up.

For me, the increasing need to keep our children ‘safe’ speaks to a [Western] cultural belief that we can somehow cheat death or injury. There is much psychoanalytical literature that suggests we repress our knowledge of the inevitable (death) yet act out in ways that keep this knowledge in the realm of the impossible. In other words, we incorporate risk into our lives (such as driving a car) but we are angered when there are accidents. We use plastics and chemicals with known carcinogens but are confused when a family member gets cancer. We live in ways that flirt with death; yet we think in ways that turn death into an impossible event.

This all might be a little heavy-duty for Tuesday morning, but I feel that it is important to highlight this cultural attitude. Does this outlook effect how parents are in tune with products that allow us to maintain ‘unsafe’ activities while keeping our children ‘safe’ from them? I’m not advocating for the elimination of either, just that we need to acknowledge the paradox inherent in all ‘safety’ products and legislation.

Consider the issue of checking in minor league hockey. What about (dis)allowing children to ride quads? Installing baby-proofing gadgets? As parents, do we hope to avoid injury or death without fully acknowledging that the activity itself will always be risky? Do we need to come to terms with the fact that every day is full of risks that may hurt our children? Because we if don’t come to terms with this fact, we will continue to spend millions on ‘safety’ and make childhood into something that can only be experienced through bubble wrap.

Which brings me to this video. It’s another take on the car seat issue. You might be familiar with the book Freakanomics (an awesome book!). Here, Freakanomics author, Steven Levitt, questions if car seats are really necessary.


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