This week marks National Safe Kids Week, an annual public education event started by Safe Kids Worldwide to help understand and prevent childhood injuries. A national survey sponsored by the organization and corporate giant Johnson & Johnson provides a revealing look at misperceptions in the world of youth sports.
The results of Coaching Our Kids to Fewer Injuries: A Report on Youth Sports Safety show parents and coaches are naïve to serious conditions like overuse injuries, dehydration and concussions.
• 1 in 3 children who play team sports are injured seriously enough to miss practices or games, and some suffer lifelong consequences
• 90 percent of parents underestimate the length of break children should take from playing a sport during the year to protect them from overuse and burnout. According to The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM), children should take a couple of months, or one season, away from a specific sport each year. Young athletes should also take at least a day off each week from organized activity.
• More than half of all coaches believe there is an acceptable amount of head contact during play, without potentially causing a serious brain injury. The fact remains the degree of impacts are difficult to determine until properly evaluated by a medical professional.
• Almost 50 percent of all coaches indicated they have felt pressure from parents or the athletes, themselves, to keep an injured child in a game.
• 30 percent of children think talented players should keep playing even when they’re hurt, unless a coach or adult makes them stop.
• Three-quarters of coaches report they would like additional training on preventing concussions.
Kate Carr, President and CEO of Safe Kids Worldwide says, “Culturally, there’s an attitude that injuries are a natural consequence of sports and that good athletes tough it out when they suffer an injury. But that attitude is hurting our kids.”
The survey was conducted online in February and March 2012, collecting data from 516 children aged 8 to 18 who played a variety of sports, as well as from 750 parents and 752 coaches.