The safety of children is potentially at risk from accidents and injuries, as well as crime. Providing a safe environment, putting prevention measures into practice, and teaching children methods of self-protection are all ways to reduce the potential for harm to children.
Accidents are the leading cause of death for children aged 14 and under in the United States, claiming more than 5600 lives each year, or an average of 15 children per day. More than 16 percent of all hospitalizations for accidental injuries among children lead to permanent disability. Although the accidental injury death rate declined among children ages 14 and under by almost 40 percent from 1987 to 2000, accidental injury remained in the early 2000s the number one killer of this age group. In 2000, the leading cause of fatal accidental injury among children was motor vehicle occupant injury (28%), followed by drowning (16%) and airway obstruction injury (14%). Falls (36%) were the leading cause of nonfatal, hospital emergency room-treated childhood injury in 2001. Other frequent causes of accidental injuries and deaths are fire and burn injury, accidental firearm injury, and poisoning.