Accident & injury stats – Almost fear mongering with pretty ordinary stats

In the Hearld Sun on Monday 14 February, there was an article about the number of kids experiencing ‘serious’ accidents in playgrounds. The article mentioned Monash University Accident Research Centre study results, and a few numbers dance around the text: 1505 kids had a serious accident; together, kids can spend up to 30 days at hospital per year; 41% of all serious accidents are associated with climbing equipment; 85% of injuries are broken bones of which most related to arm (75%); and 2/3 of accidents occur amongst 5-9 years.

What I find interesting is that the article was trying to create drama using threat and danger with really mundane information that seems to highlight the issue is not about accidents, but a lack of intense playing. The numbers of children who go to hospital are described as ‘staggering’, and an example is provided in relation to a little boy who broke his neck. This led me to check just how ‘staggering’ the figures were, and whether broken necks are the sort of serious accidents the stats referred to.

Serious accidents account for about 0.2% of Victoria’s child population (671,225 aged 0-9 as of June 2010, ABS statistics). I tried to find the research that this data refers to, but I couldn’t. I did find a different report from the Monash University Accident Research Centre that found children’s hospital admissions for ‘unintentional’ injury and poison decreased nearly 23% 1996 – 2009, and the majority of accidents happened at home, with school a distant second. I also found out that the majority of ‘serious’ injuries are broken arms. Broken arms, while they may be broken in more or less damaging ways, are unfortunate, but do not belong in the same category as a broken neck.

This seems pretty good to me, or even pretty low – are kids playing hard enough? Imagine if we kept statistics on a different set of questions. What if we broadened our questions beyond location, type of injury and activity? What things would you ask?

Here’s the start to my list (depending on the situation):
o Were you having fun?
o Was this the first time you tried that, or was it a freak accident?
o When you’re healed, how long do you think it will take you to get that trick right?
o Etc.

I think one of my earlier posts says it all, and says it best, so take a look.

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About Julie Rudner

With great excitement for the adventure we were about to go on, my mother would shout out, "We're off to see the Wizard"! It didn't matter if we were going to the shops for milk, the museum or a holiday. My mum focused on the joy of the everyday, knowing that if we engaged with life, we would always find something new and positive. With great animation my dad would explain the workings of things and how to pull things apart, put them back together, and if the situation called for it, make something new. My sister and I were taught to evaluate situations, make our decisions, and reap the consequences (both good and bad). We were encouraged to push our boundaries and not let fear prevent us from pursuing our dreams. Importantly, we learned to pick ourselves up, learn from our 'failures', and use our valuable lessons to build our confidence, independence and strength in ourselves.
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