Very young children are naturally curious. Children learn about the world by physically interacting with the things around them. They like to touch, feel, and explore. As a result of these characteristics, they are at high risk for accidents due to choking, drowning, road accidents, poisoning, and fires.
In South Africa, trauma/injury is one of the leading causes of death for children. At the Red Cross Children’s Hospital alone, between 7000 and 8000 children are treated annually for injuries. Most of these injuries could have been prevented. The most dangerous place where childhood injuries occur are reported to be in and around the home or near roads.
According to the Child Accident and Prevention Foundation of South Africa (CAPFSA), children under the age of five years are most vulnerable to injuries. To be able to prevent injuries from happening parents need to be aware of the kind of development a child is going through at a specific age.
Many parents are not aware of their children’s limitations at a very young age and sometimes believe that their young child is “naughty” when exploring.
In the first five years, a parent’s role shifts from protector to educator. At birth, parents have to afford 100% protection to children. But over the next five years the emphasis gradually changes. Parents spend more time educating children rather than protecting them from injury. By the time children reach the age of six years, 10% of time is devoted to protection and 90% on education.
How to protect young children
It is often tricky for parents to know how to provide adequate protection without giving the child the freedom to explore the environment. CAPFSA offers the following advice:
- Modify and maintain a developmentally appropriate safe environment for children where possible.
- Model examples of safe behaviours that children can follow.
- Teach children and adults skills how to prevent themselves from harm. Adapt these lessons as children grow older.
Various activities will take place here in the Western Cape such as workshops, distribution of educational resources during Child Safety Month.
For more information and safety tips contact Nelmarie du Toit at 021 6855208.