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Although accidental injury is the leading cause of death among children under age 14, parents are more concerned about violent crime and alcohol and drug abuse, according to a survey of parents released last week by a Washington-based research group.

More than 8,000 children under age 14 are killed and 50,000 are disabled each year by preventable injuries from such causes as traffic accidents, falls, severe burns, and accidental discharge of firearms, the report by the National Safe Kids Campaign says.

Yet the parents of 803 children under age 15 who were surveyed focused much more on high-profile violence. Forty-three percent listed such violent crimes as drive-by shootings as their first concern, 39 percent said drugs and alcohol topped their list of fears, and 24 percent cited accidental injuries as most worrisome, the report says.

As a result of the study, former U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, the campaign's chairman, urged the Clinton Administration last week to include a program to prevent childhood injuries in its initiative to reform the nation's health-care system.

"No national health-care plan for America or America's children can be considered complete unless it includes a battle plan for fighting the number one killer of kids--preventable childhood injury,'' Dr. Koop said.

The campaign's five-point plan recommends changing federal Medicaid rules to reimburse low-income parents who purchase child-safety seats, adopting nationwide mandatory-safety-belt laws, passing federal legislation to encourage state and local laws mandating the wearing of bicycle helmets and the installation of home smoke detectors, and making burn prevention a public-health priority, Dr. Koop said.

Vol. 12, Issue 18

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