BANGKOK – Mahidol University’s National Institute Development of Children and Families has raised concerns in a recent study that shows accidents killed more than 2,500 children between the ages of one and 12 last year.
Adisak Plitponkarnpim, the institute director, said many young children die from preventable accidents, as they are naturally curious to explore their surroundings.
Children enjoy outdoor activities which appeal to their thirst for acknowledge. However, some activities ended up in tragedy as children become victims of their own instinct to satisfy their curiosity, he said.
On average about 200 youngsters between the ages of one and 12 died from accidents every month last year. Dr Adisak added the 4-12 age bracket recorded the most deaths of all age groups in Thailand.
The most deaths among children occur in April, as this marks the second month of the summer school break that typically lasts from early March until the end of May.
April is also a time of the annual Songkran festival when children join the water-splashing activities that take place near waterways, where drownings are frequently reported.
Dr Adisak said close parental supervision is needed during school breaks.
Out of the more than 2,500 children who died from accidents last year, 740 or about 33% perished from drowning, mostly in neighbourhood waterways, community ponds or wells.
Fatal accidents also include being hit by cars or motorcycles, as well as falling from high places such as trees or balconies.
Dr Adisak added the institute’s inspection of playgrounds at kindergartens nationwide found that 90% of them were below standard.
Equipment at many playgrounds was found to be structurally unstable and lacked proper maintenance, despite having been in use for a long time, he said.
He said children between the ages of 6 and 12 should be taught to take care of their own safety. “They should be made aware of potential dangers around them,” he said.
The institute has arranged a child safety camp to educate children during the current October school break.
Apart from educating the public about accident prevention, the programme will train children to pay heed to their personal safety.
Dr Adisak said children must be taught to not communicate with strangers, and that they are entitled to reject inappropriate body contact.
In addition, children also need to be able to call for help in critical situations, such as when they are trapped in a locked vehicle, as well as how to attract other people’s attention in case they need to be rescued.
By Penchan Charoensuthipan