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Raising Good Kids in Tough Times

By Dr. Roger McIntire

 Parent Alert: New Deadly Threat

            Epidemic hits high schoolers! Death rate quadruples among 16-year-olds! No immunity in sight. Medical community has no shot that will help.

            All your efforts to protect your teen from childhood diseases, accidents with sharp objects and running with scissors pale to almost nothing.

            Is it a virus? A cancer? A new mind-splitting drug? No. It’s cars.

A study by Ezekiel Emanuel and David Wendler from the National Institutes of Health shows that daily hospitalizations, emergency room visits, and even deaths per million go up only slightly through childhood and early adolescence.

Before the driving age, football injuries top the list at 3800 injuries per million occasions of participation. Soccer is next at 2400, then basketball at 1900, cheerleading 1700, baseball, 1400 and skateboarding, 800. All of these are less frequent as the kids grow up. Of course the number and age of players varies in these sports.

But until they reach the 15- to 19-age group, the daily death rate among children is almost steady at about 1 per million per day. In the late teens, deaths skyrocket to 10 per million per day. Emergency room visits jump from 30 to 60 per million per day from the early teens to the late teens.

All that we do to protect our kids by taking them to and from soccer, dance lessons, football practice, using car seats, seat belts, lecturing about looking both ways and following the rules at the neighborhood pool—all is overwhelmed and swept aside by the risks of driving and riding with reckless friends.

Saying, “Be careful” is not enough. Limitations and restriction need to be enforced. Join a parent team that will be checking every car that leaves the prom dance. Better yet, help them plan the whole evening with chauffeuring and no need for cars. Nothing else you have ever done to protect them during all their growing up years means as much as your riding and driving rules.

You don’t want that terrible late-night phone call, “This is Officer Smith of the State Police, Your son (daughter) has been . . .”

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