rant: austin's children

every year, the center for child protection releases an annual report of child fatalities. it provides statistics of the past year of how many and how the children of this community are dying.

in 2006 Travis County had 140 child deaths, a 20 percent increase over the 117 child fatalities recorded in 2005. That number is significantly higher than the annual average of 127 child deaths recorded since 1996; Center officials say that the increase is therefore unlikely due only to an increase in the county’s population. The deaths ranged in age from pre-term infants to 17-year-olds.

Here are some findings in the report:

  • Thirty-eight children died in 2006 due to accidents. This number reflects an 81 percent increase from 2005 when there were 21 deaths, and more than twice the number of accidental deaths (17) from 2004. Of the accidental deaths documented last year, children died as a result of asphyxia/suffocation (17), motor vehicle accidents (13), drowning (3), fire (1), a gunshot wound (1), and other accidents (3). No children died as a result of hyperthermia last year.
  • The largest number of accidental child deaths resulted from asphyxiation. 2006 marks the first year deaths due to motor vehicle accidents were not the highest number. Seventeen children died from asphyxiation in 2006 compared to only 3 such deaths in 2005. This is the highest annual total since 13 deaths occurred in 1997. Seven of the deaths in 2006 were the result of overlays (asphyxia caused by an adult or child), 9 were due to positional asphyxia (asphyxia due to a child’s position in relation to an object), and 1 was caused by choking. All children were less than a year old, except for the choking victim who was two years old.
  • The second largest category of fatal accidents involved motor vehicle accidents. In 2006, 13 children died as a result of motor vehicle accidents (MVA), reflecting an 18 percent increase in child MVA fatalities from the 11 deaths reported in 2005. Out of the 13 MVA child fatalities in 2006, 9 (69 percent) were teenagers defined as children between ages 13 and 17. Though no child MVA victims had consumed alcohol, 3 fatalities (23 percent) were caused by alcohol-impaired adults.

having worked at the center and complied this report before, it still shocking to see how many lives are lost before they even begin. it's an reminder that life is precious and fragile. if you have a moment, please read this report. even if you don't live in austin, there is still some great information in there on how to keep your children safe and alive.


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