February 18, 2003
Charlotte, NC -The Mecklenburg County Community Child Fatality Prevention and Protection Team (the Team) made its annual report to the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners during the BOCC regular meeting on February 18.
Highlights of the report included that 188 children died in Mecklenburg County as a result of preventable causes during the period of 1995 to 2000. Twenty of the 188 childhood deaths were attributed to abuse or neglect. Of these, 85 percent (17) were under the age of 5, with 11 deaths under the age of 1year.
During the years that the report covers, 34 percent of the deaths were due to motor vehicle injuries, 22 percent were homicides, and 21 percent were due to SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). For motor vehicle deaths, only 45 percent of those children riding in or driving cars were recorded as being appropriately restrained. Also, there were 31 deaths from gun-related injuries. Five of these children died as a result of homicide, four were suicides, and one was an unintentional shooting.
One success story has been the Back to Sleep, Front to Play campaign, which has resulted in a decline in SIDS deaths nationally and locally. In 1996 Mecklenburg County SIDS-recorded deaths peaked at 13. Those numbers decreased to three in 2000.
The Team reviews all childhood deaths in Mecklenburg County each year. These include deaths due to cancer, genetic defects and prematurity, but the Team has identified many deaths that could have been prevented. Preventable deaths usually occur from injuries, both intentional, such as homicides, and unintentional, such as motor vehicle crashes. The Team is comprised of a broad cross section of representatives from several youth serving agencies in Mecklenburg County and has adopted a stance that preventable childhood deaths can be reduced through system changes that may result in better communication, collaboration, and education.
Incoming Team chairperson Anne Pfeiffer of Pat's Place Child Advocacy Center said that, "Closing our eyes to any incidence of preventable injury or maltreatment only limits our ability to prevent future deaths. Injuries and maltreatment to children are not simply 'accidents' that just happen or that are random and cannot be stopped. They are predictable and understandable and therefore preventable."
The full report is available at the Mecklenburg County Department of Social Services, the Council for Children, the Pediatric Resource Center, or on-line at
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Media Contact: Andy Fair, 704-432-0021 or