Are 5,000 kids a day injured in serious accidents?

I received my 2009-10 White Pages this week, and on the back there is an ad from the Kids Foundation, a charity aimed at reducing preventable injury to children. The ad says:

On an average day 5,000 kids are injured in serious accidents.

This sounded like a lot, so I went to the Foundation’s website looking for a source. None is to be found, though they offer another statistic saying that this results in 100 hospitalisations.

At the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare website I found statistics on hospitalisations but not all injuries. This suggests the hospitalisations figure is conservative – I calculate for 2004-05 an average of 158 hospital admissions a day for 0-14 year olds for injuries or poisonings (though this includes deliberate as well as accidental injuries and poisonings).

But even with this higher number, how serious could the injuries be if only 3% require hospital treatment?

The ABS reports all injuries whether requiring hospital treatment or not, with a quarter of 0-14 year olds reporting an injury in the previous 4 weeks. That’s around a million a month, which would certainly get us to 5,000 a day. On the other hand, a lot of these injuries are minor such as cuts, falls below one metre, and stings – things that are painful at the time but usually do no lasting or major harm. They are a normal part of growing up, not ‘serious accidents’.

The Kids Foundation sounds like a worthy cause, and certainly the super-protective parenting since I was growing up is paying off in greatly reduced death rates for kids. But when I read shock! horror! numbers with no source I get the feeling I am being subject to spin, and become less inclined to support the organisation involved.

If someone can point me to the source of this number, I will of course happily acknowledge it and remove the ‘factoid’ category from the post.

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