Originally posted on my US News & World Report parenting blog (Sept 22)
THIS WEEK HAPPENS TO BE Child Passenger Safety Week – a week specifically dedicated to ensuring that parents, as well as anyone else who transports children, use the correct car seat and properly buckle kids in each and every time children ride in motor vehicles.
As a pediatrician with 15 years of experience being a child passenger safety technician and instructor, I am most definitely a fan of this week-long focus. That’s because the stakes are high when it comes to buckling kids in properly. Motor vehicle-related injuries continue to be a leading cause of death for children in the U.S.; and buckling up is the best way to save lives and reduce injuries. Child safety seats, when used correctly, can reduce the risk of death by as much as 71 percent, according to SafeKids.org.
Yet, despite all we know about the importance of passenger safety, nearly three-fourths of cars seats are still not being used or installed correctly.
Adding to this problem is a second challenge that’s by no means exclusive to car seats, but which stands to seriously thwart our collective efforts to keep our children safe in them. I’m talking about the culture of “mommy-shaming.”
Consider the photo that just a few months ago managed to capture the attention of the parenting world. The photo I’m referring to wasn’t just any picture shared by any mom. It was a snapshot of the then 18-month-old son of pop culture royalty Kim Kardashian and Kanye West. It also just so happened to be a shot of a not-yet-2-year-old strapped into a car seat that was facing forward, rather than rear-facing seat as generally recommended for a child of this age.
The parenting and media response was fast and furious. While the virtual dust has settled, I still feel the need to weigh in on a couple lingering aspects of this cause celebre.