Largely preventable accidents caused the deaths of 121 children last year, a rise from 106 in 2011, according to Beterem – the National Center for Child Safety and Health – in its annual report issued on Tuesday. Children in the North were three times as likely to die in accidents than those in Tel Aviv and the Center.

While the number of fatalities of children in road accidents remained stable at 49, there was a rise in deaths inside the home and close by, constituting 40 percent of all children’s deaths from accidents. Arab children were 2.3 times more likely to die in accidents than Jews, while poor children were 3.3 times more likely to be victims than wealthy ones.

A total of 112 children died as a result of unintentional injury and nine more were killed after purposeful injury.

Of the 121 deaths, 42% occurred at home and nearby, while 36% were on the roads, 18% were in public places and 3% in educational institutions.

Children below age one were most in danger, making up 32 of the deaths, three times the rate of older children and teens. Those aged 15 to 17 were another highrisk group, with 28 deaths among them – 15 of them in road accidents, with boys much more likely to be killed in accidents than girls.

Besides road accidents (40% of deaths), the most common causes of death in children were drowning (13%), choking (11%), poisoning and burns (6%).

Other deaths resulted from falls and other accidents.

The high mortality of children in accidents in recent years persuaded the government in February 2012 to create a multi-year plan for child safety. Sixteen ministries and institutions were involved, with the Health Ministry coordinating the plan.

The ministry’s Prof. Arnon Afek, who is in charge of its medical administration, was named head of the interministry planning committee for child safety. Afek said the plan will bring about a real change in developing a “child safety culture” and preventing accidents.

Beterem director-general Orly Silbinger said that the national program puts child safety on the country’s agenda.

“But nevertheless, the unbelievable scope of death rates in children requires giving the highest urgency and priority to the matter,” she said. Child safety at home, said Silbinger, must be as important as the struggle against road accidents.

Meanwhile, Soroka University Medical Center in Beersheba said that 18,000 children were taken to its emergency room in 2012 for treatment of injuries in the home and vicinity – twice the rate of child accidents in the Center.

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