Who is responsible for keeping children safe? In America, we usually put that responsibility in the hands of parents.
In fact, the difficulty of protecting our kids is ridiculously complex. Consider a small example of what parents have to navigate:
- Questionable drinking water;
- Drugs such as children’s Tylenol and Benadryl recalled because of production problems and contamination;
- Cribs that trap and choke children to death;
- Poorly designed car seats and strollers, the latter which have been known to shear fingers off;
- Toxic air pollution in many cities and rural areas;
- An endless array of choking hazards;
- Arts and crafts (Aquadots) that become the date rape drug when ingested;
- Bacteria laden chicken, beef, spinach and peanut butter causing deaths and prompting beyond-massive product recalls.
At least in the old days, consumer advocates could confidently turn to the local newspapers or TV and radio stations to warn parents. In today’s highly fractured media world, getting out the word is far more problematic. Consider how many venues there are to negotiate:
- Internet-only news sites
- Mobile phones
- Email newsletters
- Thousands of PTAs, PTOs and school boards
Still, we must put “life-saving information in the hands … of people who need it most,” Inez Tenenbaum, the head of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, said on Tuesday. “We believe nothing should be kept from the public.”
“We’re working hard to make sure the CPSC is a more responsive organization to the American public,” added Tenenbaum, who was talking to members of the National School Safety Coalition. The coalition is being organized by Consumers Union, the publisher of Consumer Reports, which is keenly aware that getting the word out – in a day and age where newspapers have slashed reporting staffs in half – is a big problem.
Already, some very impressive groups have joined the coalition, which is hoping to make a big splash when school starts up again in the fall. Coalition members include the CPSC, Federal Trade Commission, national and local PTAs, the National Association of School Nurses, and the National School Boards Association.
It remains to be seen if the Food and Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture will join the coalition, which beyond the CPSC are the two most important federal agencies regarding child safety. I’m hopeful that as the coalition grows in stature, those agencies will happily join this worthy movement to protect American children.
Disclosure: I was flown out on Consumers Union’s dime.
Additional – Childhood Safety Sources