A nationwide outreach program will be launched today to battle the No. 1 killer of children under 14 in the United States -- preventable injuries.
"Never before have so many people come together to fight this terrible epidemic that kills 8,000 and disables 50,000 children each year," said C. Everett Koop, former surgeon general and chairman of the National Safe Kids Campaign.
Dr. Koop is set to ask the Congress and the Clinton administration today in Washington to make childhood injury prevention part of its public policy agenda. While Dr. Koop's remarks have not yet been made public, he is expected to ask for federal pressure on states to improve laws, and, in some cases, for new legislation for mandatory bicycle helmets, smoke alarms and car safety seats.
Safe Kids America, the national outreach program led by the National Safe Kids Campaign and Johnson & Johnson, will include safety materials in stores, newspaper advertising supplements, a special edition of CBS' "Rescue 911" focusing on preventable injuries, and community events such as bike safety rodeos, playground safety inspections and fire safety seminars.
"More children are killed by preventable injuries each year than by all childhood diseases combined," said Dr. Koop in a prepared statement. "This is a unique opportunity to focus America on preventing these needless deaths. Safe Kids America will help us join forces and put an end to this terrible tragedy."
Also today, a national parents' survey was set for release, showing that mothers and fathers underestimate the threat of injuries to their children, worrying more about such less likely threats as kidnappings and drive-by shootings.
The survey, of 803 parents with children under 15, found that parents underestimated the threat of injuries even though 68 percent said their children had faced a serious injury-threatening situation.
Four of five parents surveyed also said that most unintentional injuries can be prevented.
The National Center for Health Statistics has indicated that the likelihood of a child under 15 being killed by an unintentional injury is seven times more likely than that of being a victim of a homicide.
Nonetheless, the survey showed that even parents of toddlers are more alarmed about crime, drugs and random violence than about unintentional injuries.
Forty-five percent thought there were not enough child safety laws, while 7 percent thought there were too many. Mandatory bicycle helmet use for children 14 and under was favored by 73 percent.
Parents said that while a great deal of child safety information comes from physicians, 59 percent said their doctors "never discussed childhood injury prevention."