Making Sports Safer for Children

Being a parent is the most challenging job in the world. You want to do what’s best for them, raise them right and keep them safe. Some of our recent posts have been about kids and sports, and today, our focus is sports safety. It isn’t just about physical injuries while in training or play, it’s also about abuse. Abuse can come in the form of physical, mental, psychological, and sexual.


As parents, we have the power to accomplish a great deal together. Some of the things we can do to help address abuse concerns are:

  • Talking with community leaders and schools about implementing an enforced risk management program.
  • For community sponsored events, encourage venue owners to require permits for the use of the property. A permit could be used to prevent organizations who fail to meet defined criteria use of the premises. Such standards could include management of treatment and injury prevention.
  • Take a stand against hazing and insist on anti-hazing policies and procedures. Life is hard enough growing up without adding the risks associated with hazing to the mix.
  • Support the adoption of health policies that establish goals like:
    • Zero sports injuries.
    • Mandatory protective equipment.
    • Establishment of a best practices program for both cultural and physical surroundings.
    • Insistence on the requirement of using certified trainers.
    • Require all coaches to attend safety training and be periodically evaluated.
  • Use a call to action to demand that policies and procedures be established from the perspective of children’s rights. Such programs apply to parents, coaches, volunteers, and spectators.

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There are other things you can do as well. The following are suggested strategies you can use to help protect your sports loving kids:

  • Establish ground rules at the beginning of the season regarding injury prevention.
  • Teach your kids how to prevent injuries by ensuring they train well, follow proper techniques, strength train and perform proper stretching with warm-ups and cool-downs.
  • Playing only one sport, all the time can lead to injuries of overuse. Taking a break to give those muscle groups some rest while focusing on other muscle groups or skills used for another sport it okay.
  • Our kids need to admit when they are injured. Tell coaches, parents and themselves to avoid added injury.
  • Ensure that all fouls are called, and all rules are enforced. By doing so, other players need to know that dirty play is not allowed.


If your child is injured, and if you do not seek professional medical counsel, the following is suggested.

  • Rest and do not use the injured area until you have received medical advice if needed.
  • Ice the injured area for periods of 15 to 20 minutes at a time. Continue icing for 48 to 72 hours post-injury. Do not sleep with ice in place and crushed or cubed ice is best.  Avoid chemical packs if you can, at least until you can seek medical advice.
  • Compression can be used to wrap the injured area. Start the wrap below the injury and roll upward. Watch for discoloration in the area and temperature changes.  Loosen the covering as needed and be sure to leave fingers and toes exposed.
  • Elevation can help keep swelling under control. Keeping the injured area above the heart will ensure maximum effect.


According to Health Grove which reviewed injuries of kids ages 13 to 17 in 2016, the following are the top twenty sports and their related injury counts. The data was gathered between the years of 2002 and 2014 and the numbers recorded are averages.  Surprisingly, basketball topped the list with over 119,000 injuries.

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20.       Bowling: 764

19.       Rugby: 1,214

18.       Field hockey: 1,825

17.       Tennis: 1,915

16.       Skiing: 4,752

15.       Ice skating: 4,999

14.       Horseback riding: 5,581

13.       Lacrosse: 5,830

12.       Track and field: 8,194

11.       Weight lifting: 8,921

10.       Snowboarding: 9,608

9.         Ice hockey: 12,336

8.         Volleyball: 14,304

7.         Softball: 18,119

6.         Wrestling, martial arts, and boxing: 18,174

5.         Gymnastics, dance, and cheerleading: 22,671

4.         Baseball: 27,208

3.         Soccer: 45,475

2.         Football: 118,886

1.         Basketball: 119,589

Stanford Children’s Health reports the following statistical information.

  • About 30 million kids in the nation play some sport, and over 3.5 million are injured annually in a way that dictates they lose some play time for kids 14 and younger.
  • Nearly one-third of childhood injuries are sports related with the most common being sprains and strains.
  • A sports-related death is unusual; however, if they happen, they are typically associated with a brain injury. Sports account for about 21 percent of all brain injuries in kids.
  • Around 50 percent of head injuries from sports happen because of skating, biking or skateboarding.
  • Bike injuries are most frequent in children ages five through 14 years old.
  • Over 775,000 kids are treated in emergency rooms annually for sports-related injuries, and the kids are less than 15 years of age.
  • The highest injuries happen in contact sports; however, the most severe tend to involve individual sports.
  • In organized sports, about 62 percent of injuries happen during practice.

When Stanford assessed injury information by sport, they considered ages five to 14, who were treated in hospital emergency rooms during 2009.

  • Basketball – 170,000
  • Baseball and softball – 110,000 (three to four kids died from baseball injuries)
  • Biking – 200,000
  • Football – 215,000
  • Ice hockey – 20,000
  • Roller skating – 47,000
  • Skateboarding – 65,000
  • Sledding – 16,000
  • Snow skiing and snowboarding – 25,000
  • Soccer – 88,000
  • Trampolines – 65,000

Protective Sports Gear

Some of the most common protective gear children should have for sports activities include items like:

  • Helmets that should fit snuggly with no tilting back or forward.
  • Goggles and face masks, which should also be secure and cushioned over the nose and above eyebrows.
  • Your dentist can ensure mouth guard fits properly (retainers should not be worn with a mouth guard).
  • To protect against arm and wrist fractures, wear elbow and wrist guards.
  • Knee guards protect against cuts and breaks.
  • Pads are used in everything from A to Z, and they can protect shins, wrists, elbows, knees, chests, hips, thighs and shoulders.
  • Males should wear cups for any contact support and a supporter for contact sports that require running.
  • Cleats are required for some sports, and other games need special shoes as well like biking and skateboarding. Once they lose their supportive features, consider them worn out and replace them.

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Aches and Pains

Using pain relievers can be a terrible idea because they could be masking pains that need attention. Pain is the body’s natural way of reporting a problem and telling us that something is wrong. And too much reliance on medications can be harmful to little bodies. If you feel consistent pain, please seek expert medical advice to determine the source of the pain and how it can be improved or eliminated. Most suggest medical care for:

  • Moderate (or worse) pain.
  • Any pain that prevents you from your normal daily activities or sleeping. Including pain that inhibits proper form.
  • Swelling.

If you have a cold or virus, please don’t play. Both prohibit your ability to concentrate, and you risk spreading the illness to your team.

If your children are haphazard or complacent about being hurt, talk with them to ensure they understand the risks. There is no need to over excite them and create excessive worries about being injured; however, they should be aware how to take protective and preventive measures when necessary. Let’s not take the fun out of playing and let’s take healthy steps to ensure safe play.

What Do You Think?

Making Sports Safer for Children

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