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Monday April 12, 6:03 pm Eastern Time
Safety hazards at child-care facilities cited
WASHINGTON, April 12 (Reuters via Yahoo!) - Two-thirds of all U.S. child-care facilities have one or more safety hazards, that have resulted in at least 56 child deaths since 1990, the Consumer Product Safety Commission said on Monday.
In a study last year, officials visited 220 licensed care settings, which fit at least one of four categories -- sites run by the federal government; operations providing in-home care; those run by nonprofit groups; and those run for profit.
The survey found two-thirds of the operations had at least one of eight hazards cited in a checklist for child-care providers and parents, the commission said.
The commission said at least 56 children have died in child-care settings since 1990. In 1997 alone about 31,000 children under the age of five were treated in hospital emergency rooms for injuries suffered at child-care facilities and school settings.
The commission said 38 percent of child-care facilities allowed children to wear outerwear with drawstrings, which could get caught on playground equipment and cause strangulation.
Playgrounds were poorly maintained in 27 percent of facilities and 24 percent had unsafe surfaces -- such as dirt, grass or concrete -- on which children could be hurt if they fell, the agency said. Safe playground surfaces include wood chips, mulch and padded rubber materials.
The commission said 19 percent of facilities had cribs with soft bedding, which can cause suffocation, and 13 percent did not use child safety gates to prevent falls on stairs. Five percent used playpens and cribs that had been recalled.
``Some hazards are obvious, like playground surfacing that has worn thin. Other hazards are hidden dangers that may not be obvious,'' commissioner Ann Brown said in a statement. ``Even the best parents and child-care providers may not be aware of these hidden dangers.''
The commission on Monday joined Hillary Rodham Clinton in releasing a child-care safety checklist that recommended using only safety-certified cribs, snug-fitting mattresses and mats of safety-tested rubber or rubber-like materials on playground surfaces, and cutting the loops on window cords.
``The Child-Care Safety Checklist will provide parents and child-care providers with the information they need to ensure that children are safe in all child-care settings,'' the first lady said in a statement released on the agency's web site. The commission is an independent federal regulatory agency that monitors consumer products for safety.
Its web address is http://www.cpsc.gov.
SWITZERLAND: GLOBAL CHILD ABUSE
An estimated 40 million children suffer from abuse, the World Health Organization in Geneva said. After studies in 19 countries on children up to 14, W.H.O. said sex abuse was inflicted on about 34 percent of girls and 29 percent of boys.
In the United States, W.H.O. said, it costs $12.4 billion a year for health services for the estimated two million children injured by abuse.
Elizabeth Olson (New York Times)
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