Children on their way to school.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
A total of 37 children died in preventable accidents in their homes, neighborhoods, on the roads and at holiday spots during this year’s summer vacation.
This number is significantly higher than the usual average of 23 deaths that have occurred during the last four summer vacations, according to Beterem – The Israel Center for Child Safety and Health.
The main cause of death was road accidents – including cars, electric bicycles, hoverboards and other wheeled vehicles – while four children died from falling and three from unintentional choking. Over the last four years, the average road-related death toll of children during July and August, was seven.
Twelve children died in accidents inside or just outside their home this past summer, while four died in the public sphere. Two-fifths of the deaths involved children up to the age of three, which is 1.6 times their proportion in the population – meaning that adults were not taking proper care of them.
Teenagers aged 17 comprised of 16% of the deaths with road accidents being the most common cause. The number of accidents this summer was even amongst boys and girls, unlike previous years, in which boys suffered two-thirds of the deaths in road-related accidents.
Almost half the accidental deaths were Arab children and teens.
Beterem director-general Orly Silbinger said the statistics were very serious and worrisome. “The 60% rise in deaths compared to the average figure during the previous four years should sound alarm bells. Many of the children were not in educational or family frameworks when they were killed,” she said.
“It may be that parents are too busy with their smartphones to keep an eye on children, that they did not teach them how to cross streets safely, that they bought them wheeled vehicles or that they were too young to ride and did not ensure the wearing of helmets and staying in safe places,” she suggested.Hoverboards and electric bicycles
may only be legally used after one turns 16.
She urged parents to practice the safest ways of going to school with their children and to choose routes that involve the fewest number of street crossings, especially for children under nine. “Always cross at recognized crossings, slowly rather than running. Always repeatedly look both ways before crossing. Children should not use smartphones, speak or listen to music while crossing,” Silbinger said.