An article in a recent edition of The Rural Blog, offers some sobering statistics.
- One child dies very three days due to agriculture related injuries.
- 33 children are injured every day because of agriculture related injuries.
- The number of worker fatalities in agriculture is higher than the number of all non-agriculture industries combined.
- In 2014, 7,469 household youth were injured on a farm; 60 percent of those were not working at the time of the injury.
- Vehicles, including ATVs, are the leading cause of injuries for non-working youth and visitors to a farm.
- Tractors and ATVs account for most fatalities among working youth on farms.
These statistics are compiled by the National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety, in Marchfield, Wisc.
It’s no surprise that agriculture can be a dangerous occupation. Farms depend on large machines, many with sharp blades, a lot of moving parts, and implements designed to rip deeply into the soil. Large animals, farm ponds, and equipment sheds offer other hazards.
It’s also no surprise that youngsters who grow up on farms are exposed at an early age to both the challenges and the rewards of work. I have met many farm kids who begin to dream of following in their parents’ footsteps before they start school. It’s in their DNA.
I’ve also come to the conclusion that farm youngsters develop responsibility earlier than their counterparts from town or non-farm households. They are also more courteous, but that’s another topic.
I also must admit that I’ve seen children perform chores on farms that seemed too much for their age and experience. I cringe every time I witness it, and I will not publish stories or photos of kids performing such chores.
I also understand that the children’s parents are in a much better position than I to make the determination of what are and are not appropriate chores. I will not criticize their parenting choices.
But I would remind farm families, especially at this busy time of year, with field preparation and planting season underway, to be aware of a child’s maturity, level of responsibility and limitations. Teenagers, especially, assume their own indestructability and their ability to go beyond their reasonable limitations. They need breaks, plenty of rest and appropriate supervision.
I also know how close-knit farm families are and how precious those children are. Please be careful.
Note: The Rural Blog is described as “A digest of events, trends, issues, ideas and journalism from and about rural America, by the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, based at the University of Kentucky.