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5 Lakh Kids Died in Last Decade – 41% on Road, 31% at Home: Report

A report on child safety by NIMHANS, Bengaluru found that 165 children died daily from unintentional injuries.

Published
India
4 min read
Image of school children used for representational purposes.
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Nearly 165 children die every day due to unintentional injuries, according to a report on child safety in India, released by Bengaluru-based NIMHANS, or the National Institute of Mental Health & Neuro Sciences.

Citing an official report from 2015, it states that 45,636 minors died due to factors ranging from road accidents, poisoning, drowning, and others. The status report, titled ‘Advancing Child Safety in India’, notes that “for every intentional injury death among children, three unintentional child injury deaths are reported”.

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Apart from using government data and official reports to supplement gaps in information about children’s deaths nationally, the study also surveyed about 131 schools in and around Bengaluru and neighbouring Kolar as part of a safety appraisal process.

Road Accidents Cause 41% of All Injury Deaths, 31% at Home

5 Lakh Kids Died in Last Decade – 41% on Road, 31% at Home: Report
(The Quint/Aroop Mishra)

Nearly 41 percent of all fatal injuries took place in road traffic injuries (RTIs) while 31 percent of them took place at home. According to the study, road accidents were the most common cause of child injury deaths in India.

It also noted that half of all child injury deaths could be averted with efficient trauma care systems in place. Speaking to The Quint, Dr Gururaj G, co-author of the report said that ‘trauma care systems’ referred to the post-injury stage including availability of first-aid, timely transportation to final corrective treatment measures.

However, while dissecting the data along the urban-rural divide, the study discovered that RTIs were an urban phenomenon as far as fatal injuries are concerned. In rural areas, fatal injuries were more likely to be caused by drowning or due to accidents in the farm. The study also found trauma care systems to be comparatively more deficient in rural areas.

Cops Blame Parents, School Management

Speaking to The Quint, Bengaluru city police commissioner Bhaskar Rao said parents were to blame for choosing convenience over safety while sending their kids to school.

“What happens is that children are stuffed into buses, packed like sardines. Parents don’t want to go to bus stops anymore. They prefer the personalised service of vans, autos where they are picked up from their homes. The blame lies with the parents and the school management but each tries to blame the other,” he said.

Rao added that while there was no dearth of laws, the enforcement was lacking.

“There is a crisis of implementation, no dearth of laws. Children are the most vulnerable and suffer the most. Police can only do collective work. Parents must be mindful of how they send their kids to school.”
Bhaskar Rao

Interestingly, the report stated that in Bengaluru, children as pedestrians, cyclists and on two-wheeler accounted for 85% of all fatal RTIs among children.

‘Need to Create Safe Environment for Children’

Dr Gururaj G, senior professor and dean, neurosciences, NIMHANS, and co-author of the report, said it aimed to shed light on the particular situation of children and the risks they face, to build mechanisms around it.

“There are physiological, mental and physical problems that are particular to children and these need to be identified and fixed. What is worrying is that in a large spectrum of cases, the infrastructure around schools is not proper, there are no proper signs. The roads need to be better, as with the footpaths; even supervised crossing needs to be put in place. A child on its own cannot recognise the dangers on the road,” he said.

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In the safety appraisal of school in and around Bengaluru, the study found that overall safety in schools was observed to be 50.8 percent of expected levels, with fire safety alone at 20% of expected levels. Most schools compromised on fire safety, giving fire safety certificates, fire detectors, and fire alarms a miss in their premises.

Re-examination of Current Policies Required

Stating that “safety needs to be in constant evolution”, Dr Gururaj said that while there were several policies and programmes in place, they needed to first be implemented and then reworked.

“As there are no dedicated child safety and injury prevention programmes in India at the moment, few ministries have taken a lead to address these issues,” the report states. It also notes that “absence of a national programme, policy, budget, human resources and others” were factors behind slow injury prevention and safety promotion of children.

“There is a need to train all stakeholders including teachers, parents, cops, health officials and others to understand the very different nature of children’s safety,” he said.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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