Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Don't worry, your kids are safe

We went car-camping in Arlington, Vermont this past weekend, and somehow the topic of child abductions came up. It was the first time I'd heard the urban legend about a child being nearly abducted at Disney World (and the first time I'd heard an urban legend recounted as "this happened to a friend of mine...").

I knew that child abductions are waaaaay down the list of things I should worry about; the kinds of abductions that make headlines are very rare. I was curious to see what I should be worried about as a parent of two kids (who are 5 and 7 years old), and some google searching led me to the CDC Health Data for All Ages Child and Adolescent Mortality by cause.

And the answer is: I'd have to be pretty darn unlucky for my white, northeastern kids to get killed by anything in the next few years. Here's the data from 2002-2004; look at the 5-9 year old column:

Only 251 kids aged 5-9 died per year in the Northeast between 2002 and 2004. That's out of a total of 2.3 million kids that old in the Northeast (that 2.3 million number's not in the above table, you'd have to go to the website and play with the live version to see).

4 per year were murdered. Twice as many kids aged 5-9 died of heart disease in that time period! And only 10 TOTAL non-hispanic white, Northeastern kids died of asthma (go figure, I woulda thought that number would be much higher).

It's tragic when any child dies, but I find these cold, hard statistics comforting. On average, the statistics say that about 1 child aged 1-17 will die from ANY cause in Amherst each year. Our kids are much safer than we are; mortality rates for adults (even 18-34 year old adults) are much higher than for kids.

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