This June 12th The European Child Safety Alliance launched its Child Safety Report Cards. They score 31 countries on their level of adoption, implementation and enforcement of over 100 proven strategies and policies to prevent unintentional injury – good practices known to save children’s lives. The Cards show the need to increase adoption of proven child safety policies to protect Europe’s most vulnerable citizens and future society.
This is the third round of report card assessments to be conducted by the European Child Safety Alliance, with 18 countries participating in 2007, 26 in 2009 and now 31 in 2012. A trend analysis for countries participating from 2007 to 2012 found a significant improvement in overall country scores. Encouragingly some of the greatest improvements are in countries where investments in prevention have been made in the last five years (e.g., Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary, Scotland and Spain). A decrease in overall score since 2009 in Greece probably reflects the economic crisis in that country and may signal a risk of erosion in the progress made on child safety in other countries as austerity measures are put into place.
Injury is the leading cause of death, disability, burden and inequity for children in Europe. It remains a leading cause of death for children and adolescents in every Member State in Europe, with some of the lowest and highest country death rates for child injury in the developed world.
“A child dies every hour of every day in the EU as a result of an injury”, says Joanne Vincenten, Director of the European Child Safety Alliance. “Consistent use of proven prevention strategies across the EU could save most of these lives. It would also save billions of Euros spent each year on treating injuries and would allow children and adolescents to grow up to be healthy and active contributors to future economic growth in Europe.”
Overall countries have greater uptake of transport related policies than those related to the prevention of home injuries. As home injuries are a leading cause of child injury hospitalisations and emergency room visits, efforts to enhance the adoption, implementation and enforcement of proven policies to reduce drowning, falls, burns and scalds, poisonings and choking/strangulation need to be given the same level of commitment and resourcing as transport related policies.
To date no country has adopted all the recommended safety measures. There is room for improvement across all countries, particularly given the inequalities between countries with over 6 times difference in unintentional injury rates between countries with the highest and lowest rates.
Differences between countries’ overall report card scores are also large, ranging from 14.5 to 45 points out of a possible 60 points. “The burden of childhood injuries falls disproportionately on children from disadvantaged groups and in countries undergoing the greatest socioeconomic changes”, states Dr. Dinesh Sethi of the World Health Organisation. “This unequal distribution of injuries threatens to further widen the gap in health inequalities between and within countries and causes social injustice.”
Child injury is a leading cause of death for children in Europe and the #1 leading cause for children and adolescents 5-19 years of age. Deaths are the ‘tip of the injury burden iceberg’ with many more children suffering enormous long-term consequences in terms of physical disability and psychological effects, which in turn represents a large cost to society. The child safety report cards are a tool that was specifically designed to bring attention to this deadly and debilitating threat.
The 2012 Child Safety Report Cards, developed as part of the Tools to Address Childhood Trauma, Injury and Children’s Safety (TACTICS) project, are overviews that summarise countries’ levels of safety provided to their youngest and most vulnerable citizens through national policy addressing unintentional injury in nine unintentional injury areas (passenger/driver safety, motor scooter and moped safety, pedestrian safety, cycling safety, water safety/drowning prevention, fall prevention, burn prevention, poisoning prevention, choking/strangulation prevention) and leadership, infrastructure and capacity strategies to support child injury prevention efforts up to July 2011.
Child safety report cards were devised to allow: