Child Injuries at School a Concern for Naples Parents as New School Year Approaches

According to Safe Kids USA, August is Back to School Safety Month, so the final blog of our three part “Back to School Safety” series will zero in on playground safety, backpack safety, and warnings signs of a bully looming over your child at recess or during free time at school.

Previous topics we have included in our series are teen and motorist driving safely tips and school bus safety. Naples personal injury attorneys know that school can be a dangerous place for young children, especially if they are left unsupervised. Parents trust teachers, nurses, teaching aides and other professionals in the education industry to keep their children safe while under their watch.

School-related child injuries in Fort Myers and elsewhere occur far too often in varying degrees of severity. In fact, the National School Nurse Partnership Inc. reports that roughly 3.7 million children are injured nationally at school each year.

A fourth of injured children at school are considered severe cases and one in fourteen are in need of medical attention. Many playground injuries go unreported. However, it is estimated that 1 million playground injuries occur each year of which more than 10 percent require a trip to a hospital emergency room.

Approximately 15-20 children die each year from a playground incident.Injuries at school can be caused by something as simple as overloading a child’s backpack to falling off the monkey bars to being hit by a bully on the playground. The National Safety Council offers the following tips to parents and children to help reduce injuries than can occur at school.

Backpack Safety Tips:

  • Choose a backpack that fits comfortably and is ergonomically designed.
  • Use multiple compartments to distribute the weight more evenly.
  • Choose your books wisely to avoid overloading. If multiple assignments are due, prioritize to eliminate bringing every book from your locker home with you.
  • Wear the backpack with both straps to avoid strain on your shoulder or lower back. Using one strap can affect posture and cause the body to twist and overcompensate when carrying a heavy load.
  • Place reflective stickers on the backpack to become more visible at dusk.

Playground Safety Tips:

  • Do not allow children to play on playground surfaces with concrete, grass or dirt surfaces. Wood chips, pea gravel, sand, mulch, rubber mats or shredded tire materials make the surface softer and can cushion a fall.
  • Replace any wood or metal seats on swings with a softer material like rubber.
  • Make sure there is plenty of space around a swinging area. Don’t walk in front, behind or under a swing in motion.
  • Slides should contain handrails and steps with good traction.
  • Don’t send your children to school with clothing that contains drawstrings as cords get caught and is a severe strangulation hazard.
  • Avoid seesaws unless they are spring-loaded. Older seesaws require a tire or stopper under the seat to avoid hitting the ground too hard.
  • Be careful when you climb. Anything with horizontal steps or that requires climbing while your feet are off the ground is considered a fall hazard.

For other playground hazards visit U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission online for a Public Playground Safety Handbook.

Parents probably should be more concerned if, at some point, they don’t fear their child is being bullied at school. Parents are advised to look for the following warning signs to detect if your child has been physically, verbally, emotionally or sexually bullied at school:

  • Cuts, bruises or scratches on the child’s arms, legs or face.
  • Fear of going back to school.
  • Refrains from wanting to do homework.
  • Makes excuses that they don’t feel well, like a headache and stomach ache, to avoid going to school.
  • Notice disturbed sleep patterns or frequent nightmares.A child may fear talking about being bullied at school but looking the other way or choosing to do nothing could put your child in more danger.

Parents should praise their child if they have the courage to speak about it and tell them what to do if the situation arises in the future. If you suspect your child is being bullied, try to ask them non-direct questions and show support by being sympathetic. Report the incident to school authorities immediately.