In Victoria each year around 6,000 hospital-treated unintentional injuries occur among 5-15 year olds at school.

Sports-related falls and collisions are the major causes of these injuries with fractures/dislocations and sprains/strains the most common injuries.

Some of these injuries, however, could have been prevented – this is where parents can help.

Parents can play a part in reducing their children’s risk of school injuries by:

  • Providing children with and encouraging them to wear the correct safety equipment eg. a properly fitted custom mouthguard for contact sport, even at primary school. Find out the equipment your child needs for the sport and obtain professional advice before purchasing.
  • Supplying children with sporting equipment appropriate to their size and experience.
  • Educating children on the causes of sport-related injuries and how to prevent them. This may include teaching children safer ways to fall, or correct tackling and bumping techniques for contact sports.
  • Teaching children, in particular rapidly growing adolescents, how to warm up, stretch and cool down before and after activity.
  • Encouraging children to stay well hydrated before, during and after exercise. Water is adequate for most situations for children and providing children with their own water bottle that they can regularly refill can help remind them to drink regularly.
  • On hot days, providing children with light coloured and lightweight clothing, sunglasses, sunscreen and a hat. Children should also be discouraged from intense exercise in the middle of the day, when the day is at its hottest. On cold days, dressing children in layers to trap heat and prevent heat loss.
  • Ensuring teachers are aware of any medical conditions your children may have.

There are new guidelines which hope to make sport safer for child participants. To learn about them, please see here.

One piece of protective equipment that is seen increasingly on sports field – both amateur and professional – is the protective helmet. Indeed, some junior Australian Rules football clubs insist that their players wear helmets, whilst others allow participants and their parents to make their own choice on the subject.

If you’d like to know more about the pros and cons of protective helmets for children, both in and out of school, you can read more here.