The rate of accidental deaths among Arab Israeli children is 2.1 times higher than among their Jewish counterparts, according to Beterem, the National Center for Child Safety and Health.
Each year, about 75 Arab youngsters die in accidents, and two-thirds of them are victims of road accidents, the nonprofit organization reported at a conference last week on accidents in the Arab sector.
A phone poll of Arab parents on the subject of child safety showed that nearly 22 percent thought accidents at home and outdoors were a matter of "fate" and could not be prevented. However, eight in 10 parents said that whatever the cause, they had installed bars on windows, put in smoke alarms, set limitations on hot water temperatures and taken other measures to minimize harm to their children.
Almost half said their children had no safe, defined outdoor place to play, as the parents parked their vehicles in the courtyard. Half of the parents said they allowed their children to cross the street by themselves before the age of nine, and almost 60% said their children rode bicycles without helmets.
At the conference, it was reported that last year, the rate of visits to hospital emergency rooms from Kafr Kassem was 113.4 out of 1,000. The rate was 112 from Hura and just 31.3 from Kafr Kanna.
Between 1999 and 2005, the rate of accidental deaths among Jewish children dropped by 34%, but the drop was only 24% among Arab children. Much of the decline may be attributable to Beterem's educational programs for parents and educators.
In this seven-year period, 373 Arab children died in accidents - two-thirds of which were road accidents, with 43% dying as pedestrians and 27% as vehicle passengers. Other causes of accidental deaths were drowning, home accidents, burns, falls and choking.
Beterem, which is based at Schneider Children's Medical Center in Petah Tikva, called on government ministries to take action to reduce the number of child accidents.