Tackling Inequalities in Home Safety


The European Child Home Safety Conference, hosted by RoSPA and the European Child Safety Alliance, took place on November 2nd and 3rd in Stratford-upon-Avon, England. Over 100 child safety experts from across Europe attended the conference, representing nearly 20 European countries.

Injuries which occur in the home are one of the leading causes of death of European children 0 to 14 years of age. Children from lower income communities as well as those from lower income countries across Europe suffer much higher rates of life-threatening injuries, including dangerous falls, burns and scalds and poisonings. Yet we know that many of these injuries are easily preventable with simple measures tied to engineering, enforcement and education.

Janice Cave, RoSPA director of public affairs, who represents the charity at the European Child Safety Alliance, said: "one of the outstanding strengths of this event is the diversity of experience among participants, both delegates and speakers. The varied programme offers a glimpse of the many different aspects of the child home safety dialogue."

Monday's programme focused on the role of national governments and European-level interventions. Morag MacKa of the European Child Safety Alliance presented an overview of national policies of EU countries and emphasised that national legislation is an important step in beginning to address inequalities.

In the afternoon the delegates broke into workshop sessions which targeted the themes multi-sectoral partnering, product safety legislation, and education. Alliance members Gabriella Pall of Hungary, Elsa Rocha of Portugal and Katarina Rydberg of Sweden provided examples of successful multi-sectoral partnership building. The product safety legislation workshop examined the challenges presented by such products as baby walkers, blind cords, and pharmaceutical packaging, and the education workshop emphasised outreach and vulnerable communities.

During an evening dinner, a theatrical performer in the role of Queen Elizabeth regaled the crowd with tales of children's health and safety during the medieval era.

Tuesday's programme, chaired by ECSA Director Joanne Vincenten, provided a fascinating look at several international case studies. Delegates were treated to presentations by Alliance members on several diverse interactive education programmes: RoSPA's LASER programme which focuses on educating teens to manage risk; Austrian partner Grosse schützen Kleine's Child Safety House, which teaches parents and children to identify dangers at home; Israeli partner Beterem's SafeHome programme, which works closely with the Arab population on how to build their own homes safely; German partner Mehr Sicherheit für Kinder's "Giant Kitchen" exhibit, which allows adults to experience the kitchen (and its hidden dangers) as a toddler does. Further presentations were made on tap water scald prevention in England and community engagement actions in Scotland, both of which tied together caring for the young and the elderly. The final presentation illuminated the relationship between injuries and the portrayal of risky behaviour on television.

Joanne Vincenten, Director of European Child Safety Alliance, who provided closing remarks to the conference, said: "the investment in prevention of home injuries has not been commensurate with the size of the problem and attention to this matter needs to occur at the same level of that as in road safety." She applauded the group's obvious deep commitment to making life safer for children.

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