Injuries At School: Are Your Children Safe?

Now that children are back in the classroom, adults have a new worry: Are kids safe in school, while traveling or during school activities? Although officials try to protect students, accidents and injuries happen with a frequency that frightens many parents. A review of just a few incidents in Ohio and beyond reveals why.

Athletics At School

There's a lot of publicity related to injuries suffered on the football field among professional, college and high school players. Despite the media attention to high school football injuries, especially concussions, head injuries continue to occur in school football.

Football isn't the only sport that results in student injuries, and even being in the stands watching games can cause injuries. A spectator at Miami University was injured when struck with a hockey puck last year. At Sycamore Junior High School in Hamilton County, a railing on the stands collapsed, sending several students to the hospital during a football game.

However, there is good news for Ohio parents and students. A law enacted last spring requires all 16,000-plus coaches in the state to complete training in recognizing concussion and taking the appropriate action. Called the Return to Play law, it prohibits coaches from allowing a child to return to play (practice or competition) on the same day that he/she is removed because of a possible concussion. This is mandatory, whether or not he/she has been cleared by a physician or other authorized health care provider. The new law applies to all coaches, not just football coaches.

Crime In Schools

The national debate about the role of metal detectors in schools reflects the concerns of students, parents, teachers and the general public about the apparent epidemic of gun and knife violence inside school buildings. A recent tragic incident in the Houston, Texas, area underscores this concern.

A student was killed and several others were wounded during a fight in a school hallway. One student pulled a knife and stabbed four other students, one fatally. One parent reportedly said that she was going to home-school her daughter as a result of the stabbing. Some students and parents indicated that the confrontation between the students may have been gang-related.

Mass shootings in high schools and colleges throughout the United States heighten parental anxieties and provide ammunition to those who believe that schools should have metal detectors. Many schools in the country, including at least one district in Ohio, have hired armed guards to protect students both from other students and from intruders.

School Bus Accidents

Injuries to students are not limited to those that take place in the school building or on school grounds. Students traveling to school in buses are vulnerable before and after school as well. A bus overturned in Bonner Springs, Kansas, while transporting students from a Kansas City private school. Most of the students and the bus driver were reported injured and were taken to the hospital.

A bus and an SUV collided when the SUV driver failed to stop at a stop sign. The school bus landed in the ditch, as did the SUV. Both drivers were transported to the hospital for further treatment. None of the 21 students onboard on board appeared to be injured. The 16-year-old driver of the SUV was cited for failing to yield at a stop sign.

While injuries arising from bus accidents, assaults with weapons and sports injuries often appear in local media, many other injuries in schools go unreported. Slip-and-falls on wet floors, falls from heights, food poisoning in the lunchroom and small explosions in the chemistry lab don't make headlines. However, the injuries to students, both physical and emotional, can affect a young person's education and even turn them into reluctant learners because school no longer appears to be a safe place.

There is not a lot parents can do to guarantee a child's safety in school except to make sure that effective safety procedures are in place and that they are actually followed by teachers, coaches and other adults. When parents are vigilant and hold school officials accountable, student safety is sure to improve.