Participation in sports provides children with additional exercise and resulting physical fitness, encourages teamwork and cooperation, increases coordination and discipline, and fosters a sense of accomplishment, positive self-esteem, and if nurtured appropriately, a positive sense of competitiveness. But a flip side to participation in sports is kid safety, or in certain cases, the lack of kid safety on and off the field. The lack of safety can mean some pretty significant child injuries.
The National SAFE KIDS Campaign cites that more than 3.5 million kids ages 14 and under are treated for sports-related child injuries each year. SAFE KIDS indicates that the majority of the injuries are from falls, collisions, over-exertion or being struck by an object. News stories telling the grim story of a child collapsing on a field and needing emergency care or worse--dying--should serve as a flag for parents who want to keep a proper balance between kid safety concerns and child injuries vs. sports practice and performance.
The statistics of child injuries can be somewhat frightening, although the primary emphasis is to ensure awareness and an emphasis on safety. Did you know that in a typical year, for children aged 14 and under:
Nearly 187,800 are treated for football-related injuries.
Nearly 76,200 are treated for soccer-related injuries.
Nearly 21,200 are treated for gymnastics-related injuries.
More than 11,000 ware treated for cheerleading-related injuries.
More than 2,000 are treated for field hockey-related injuries.
More than 300 are treated for rugby-related injuries.
While many school-related sports and certain private gyms or groups DO require a medical exam before a child can participate in a sports activity for kid safety, the majority of sports make a physical exam a participation requirement. However, medical experts recommend it as a common sense approach to kid safety first. Parents should inform their child's pediatrician or doctor what type of sports activity a kid will be participating in, and ensure the check-up is thorough and specific. Many doctors will closely examine head and neck, flexibility, the spine, and motor skills.
What should parents do to encourage kid safety on the field or in the gyms as it relates to sports? View the kid safety checklist for parents on the next page.