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How Are We Killing Our Children Today?

March 21st, 2011  |  by  |  Published in Uncategorized  |  10 Comments

Once upon a time, we used to chuck the kiddies in the back of the beltless Buick, light up a whole pack of camels, chug Crown Royal from a flask, and drive off to Grandma’s house without a second thought. Or a first thought, actually. That’s how drunk we were. Sometimes we’d even forget the kids and the car, and just pass out in the oil puddle on the floor of the garage. Cuz that’s how parenting was done back when men were men, and women did all the work we didn’t want to.

Now, however, we know better. We’ve stopped drinking and driving and smoking, and we wear seat belts all the time, even when we leave the car, even when we’re out camping and we have to go swimming in mountain lakes—even then we’re still wearing our seatbelts, and we make damn sure our kids are too.

And still, we’re putting them in danger, because, as the Times learns today, we’ve been facing their carseats forward too fucking early:

Toddlers are usually switched from rear-facing to forward-facing car seats right after their first birthday — an event many parents may celebrate as a kind of milestone.

But in a new policy statement, the nation’s leading pediatricians’ group says that is a year too soon.

The advice from the American Academy of Pediatrics, issued Monday, is based primarily on a 2007 University of Virginia study finding that children under 2 are 75 percent less likely to suffer severe or fatal injuries in a crash if they are facing the rear.

Why? Why are you putting your child in such clear, indisputable danger? Is it because you had no idea this was dangerous? Or is it … something else:

“A lot of parents consider turning the car seat around as another developmental milestone that shows how brilliant and advanced their child is,” [Debbi Baer, a labor and delivery nurse in Baltimore who has been a car safety advocate for children for more than 30 years] said, “and they don’t realize that it’s making their child less safe.”

You. You bastard. You heartless prick. You are killing your children! Now turn that damn seat around, hand your toddler your iPhone, and get back on the road.


  1. Nicole says:

    March 21st, 2011at 5:04 pm(#)

    I turned the car seat around because my 17 month old’s knees were bent up to her chest rear facing. Actually, they had been up around her neck for a few months, but we had to wait for her to meet the minimum weight for front facing. I’m pretty sure having your knees up to your chest for 30 minutes on the drive to Grandma’s isn’t all that good for you — it certainly made her miserable.

    I guess I am cold and heartless for not going out and buying a new car that would allow her to rear-face for another 7 months the once a week we actually go anywhere in said car. Or perhaps I am just broke.

  2. Tim says:

    March 21st, 2011at 5:14 pm(#)

    I’m awaiting my backwards car. It’s safer for adults too. We’ve got video screens. Why do we still depend on windows for driving?

    Come to think of it. Why am I doing the driving at all? Let the robot drive. I’ll sit backwards and read a book.

  3. PJ Mullen says:

    March 21st, 2011at 5:14 pm(#)

    I turned my son around at 14 months and 21 pounds because he’d pitch a bloody fit every time we went anywhere in the car. Plus I could feed him snacks on long road trips to keep him quiet. And, yes, I’ve always been an insufferable bastard. But only because he won’t give me my iPhone back.

  4. Matt says:

    March 21st, 2011at 5:16 pm(#)

    God, I can’t wait for parenting.google.com to go live…

  5. Bizarro Ward says:

    March 21st, 2011at 10:11 pm(#)

    I turned my daughter around about fourteen months, because she was uncomfortable. Not only that, but how else could she watch the rear seat entertainment while I fed her whole unpeeled grapes?

  6. karen says:

    March 22nd, 2011at 1:18 am(#)

    This post just made me more happy than anyone deserves to be. Perhaps because I was a man in my last life and I totally passed out in that oil patch more often than I am willing to admit. And I loved it.

  7. Jeff Doshna says:

    March 22nd, 2011at 8:09 am(#)

    Now that the AAP, the NY Times AND Dadwagon is spreading this HUGE story, I just have one question:

    What was the sample size?

    Humor the stats professor for just a moment. If we observe 50 kids with these “severe or fatal injuries” who are facing forward, and 12 who are facing backwards — there’s your 75 percent reduction.

    Put that next to the MILLIONS of kids riding each and every day.

    The data I was able to find in a quick search suggests that in 2005 about 1,400 kids (under 14) died in car accidents. Half were unrestrained. The same year had about 200,000 kids (again, under 14) injured in car accidents. No idea how severe these were.

    I also found a source that states that the risk of fatality for kids under 1 goes down by 71 percent by just putting them in the car seat at all in the first place.

    My math’s a bit rusty (maybe Matt can help here), but a 75 percent reduction on top of a 71 percent reduction is only an additional 7.5%. In other words, getting them into the car seat at all is HUGE, and the extra year gets you a couple of points at best.

    All while dealing with a screaming toddler on an 8-hour road trip to Ohio to see the grandparents.

    Thank you, no.

  8. Tim says:

    March 22nd, 2011at 10:09 am(#)

    Here are links to the UVa study that caused the AAP to change its recommendation:


    I am not a statistician, but this does seem to argue that rear-facing offers a 75% improvement over front-facing in 0-24 month-olds, not merely 7.5%. In particular, the risk of injury in a side-on collision is 500% greater when in a front-facing car seat. Throw in the numbers from Sweden (where kids ride backward until 4+), and I’m personally convinced.

    A hugely overlooked benefit of raising kids in New York City is that we don’t have to deal with the rigmarole of daily car travel with kids (we just use the car for weekend errands and the occasional get-away). Our kids are skinny and we had them rear-facing with no complaints until they were three or so, but I can’t say for sure that we all would have stuck with the program if we had to get in and out of the car 18 times a day, every day.

    Even so, this is one of those instances where you remind yourself that you’re the parent and you’re in charge: sorry, everyone, but I’m not sure that the “my big/superenergetic/hyperobservant/etc. 15-month old simply won’t abide rear-facing!” arguments pass the laugh test.

  9. Nathan says:

    March 22nd, 2011at 11:58 am(#)

    @Smitty! @Jeff! Ack, blech statistics! This is not a peer-reviewed blog!

    However, thank you for the data-debate. To add to Smitty’s point, I do think there’s an urge among parents not just to cave to their “big/superenergetic/hyperobservant” kid, but also to make it easier for themselves. You can look and talk to a front-facing kid a lot more, and that’s convenient not just for kid, but for adult. That’s important, because I do sometimes weigh my convenience over my kids’ safety, in small doses…

  10. Laura says:

    March 22nd, 2011at 5:30 pm(#)

    Picked up a Swedish car seat for exactly this reason, and our kid will be rear facing until he’s 25kg.

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