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Children enjoy a sunny winter day on a Tel Aviv beach.(Photo by: REUTERS)
Reducing child deaths goal for 2017
By JUDY SIEGEL-ITZKOVICH
12/30/2016
Accidental childhood fatalities rise to 117 in 2016.
Car crashes, falls from bicycles and being locked in heated cars were some of the tragedies that made 2016 a very deadly year for children, according to Beterem – The National Center for Children’s Safety and Health.

A total of 117 children and teens died in accidents at home, near the home and on the roads, a major rise since the previous year when 104 children died in such circumstances.

Arab children were more likely to die than Jewish children, especially in bike accidents and from being left in hot vehicles, and their numbers rose over the past year. Burns, choking and falling from roofs were also major causes of childhood death.

But Beterem had some good news, in the approval by the Knesset of a national program for child safety that will be implemented early in 2017. The program – which will be led by the Health Ministry – will have a five-year budget of NIS 10 million.

Also involved will be the ministries of education, economy, labor and social welfare.

The program will include information campaigns to increase awareness among adults, educational efforts among schoolchildren, training of professionals to prevent accidents, data collection to inform policy- makers and more. Beterem director Orly Silbinger said similar preventive efforts in other countries have proven effective in reducing deaths.

A total of 44% of the children who were accidentally killed in 2016 died from road accidents, compared to an annual average of 36% from 2012 to 2015.

While the deaths in vehicle accidents did not change significantly for Arab children in the last year, it rose significantly for Jewish children, from 0.8 per 100,000 in 2015 to 1.3 in 2016.

Bicycles casualties rose in both populations, due to the use of bikes with electric motors ridden too fast and in places where they should not be used. In 2016, three children died in electric bike accidents.

Seven children died last year after being left locked in hot cars. That compared to an average of four such deaths annually during each of the past four years.

Babies and toddlers were more likely to die in accidents than older children.

Forty-three percent of the child victims were four years old or less, 1.4 times more than the death rate for older children.

Among teens, those aged 15 through 17 were more likely to die in accidents than children of other ages; they constituted 26% higher rate of all child deaths and 1.8 times more than other age groups.

Drowning killed 15% of children who died in accidents between 2012 and 2016. Youngsters living in the periphery of the country (especially Beduin areas in the South) were more likely to die in accidents than children in the Center of the country.

Arab children in this area were 8.3 times more likely to die than their Jewish counterparts.

Almost half of children who died in the last five years were residents of the South and North, even though they constitute only about one-third of the population of that age. Arab children were also at high risk, comprising 42% of all childhood deaths, despite their 26% share of the population.

Jewish children living in Judea and Samaria were at higher risk of mortality (4.5 per 100,000), while the lowest rate was in Haifa (1.7 per 100,000).

The risk of dying in accidents was much higher from June through August during school vacations than in the other months of the year, Beterem said.

Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman called the figures “shocking” and the phenomenon of child accidents “an epidemic. “It is unthinkable that precious and dear little children will find themselves without a solution when accidents can be prevented,” he said.

MK Yifat Shasha-Biton, chairman of the Knesset’s Child Rights Committee, called unintentional deaths of children “a national disease. It is binding upon us to ensure the safety of children,” he said, “and I regard this as a prime role for me to work with other institutions.”
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