Higher Penalties For Unrestrained Children…Says an 8th Grader

It took an eighth-grader researching a civics project to get the attention of the public regarding a serious child safety issue. Alexa Sepulveda was so moved by what she learned, she wrote a letter to the editor and it was published by Shore News Today on April 28,-2009 Her letter was so incredibly insightful that I wanted to share it with you here in its entirety:

To the editor:

Hello, my name is Alexa Sepulveda and I am an eighth-grade student at the Galloway Township Middle School. I am currently doing a civics project and my topic is increasing the penalty for driving with an unrestrained child in the car.

This has become an issue which, in my opinion, isn’t addressed enough. I believe that the penalty should be increased because it would deter parents from not putting their children in a car seat or booster seat. Restraining a child in a car will make everyone safer while driving.

safety seatsFor my project I have done some research, and the facts are frightening. A study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in October 2002 showed that 42 percent of all unintentional childhood deaths were due to automobile crashes.

According to NHTSA, every day in the United States during 2006, an average of five children ages 14 and younger were killed due to crashes. During 2006, 6,983 car passengers age 14 and younger were involved in fatal crashes. For those children, 25 percent were unrestrained; among those who were fatally injured, 45 percent were unrestrained.

Most people think that they will never get into an accident, but it happens every day and you have to be prepared for when it does.

Many parents install car seats wrong, say they can’t pay for a seat or misuse it once it is installed. This is understandable for new parents or guardians whose financial situation isn’t good. For these reasons, many car dealerships, baby supply stores and police stations have places and times where you can take your car seat and they will install it in your car properly for you. If you are unable to buy a child restraint, there are many organizations that are more than willing to assist you in getting one.

As you can see, this is an ongoing issue all around us. In doing this topic as my project, I am hoping to make children safer, and to educate people about the need to restrain children to keep everyone safer.

Alexa reminds us of some important things: accidents can happen…we must make sure we are prepared so our children are safe if they do…and we are not alone, there are others who can help us get there.

Schnee - National child passenger safety week notice

Coincidentally, National Child Passenger Safety Week is coming on September 12th through 18th. It is sponsored by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). I’m hoping that all of you travelling in cars with young children take advantage of this opportunity to check that they are safely restrained. And a great big hug to Alexa Sepulveda for caring.

About the Author

I am a former New Yorker, a new resident of Georgia, and I have three daughters, four stepsons, and six grandchildren. I’ve had a career as a musician/entertainer and educator, and have now focused my attention on this cause, which I find to be of utmost value to moms, dads, and other caregivers of children. It feels good to be able to contribute to keeping kids healthy and safe.


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