130 Little Cries

Introducing Report on the Study of Accidental Deaths at Day Nurseries
(Introduction by Noriko Nakamura)

Investigated, Written & Published by:
Association for Studying Childcare Issues So That Keiichi-chan Did Not Die in Vain

Published:  December 1982
Republished:  April 1997

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When I first read this book, I was surprised to find that the members of the association had 14 years earlier studied the cases by themselves and written the book with rich contents including nationwide statistics.

In 1972, Keiichi-chan, the eldest son of Kenji and Hidemi Azuma–an infant of one year and two months–died at a non-licensed day nursery in Tokyo. Mr. and Mrs. Azuma then discovered after an investigation that a large number of children had died in other nurseries under similar circumstances.

They inquired into what government agencies knew about these deaths, assuming that some types of investigation were being conducted. To their surprise, they discovered that no government agency had a grasp of the actual state of affairs. They were even told that government agencies did not even see a need to investigate into infant deaths unless they occurred at governmental facilities.

The Azumas, together with other members of the Association for Studying Childcare Issues So That Keiichi-chan Did Not Die in Vain, were resolved that they would find answers to the questions “What caused deaths of so many infants?” and “What should be done to avoid recurrences of similar deaths?”

The contents of the book include:   Problems of government’s policy on childcare, problems of day-care facilities, grief and anguish of the families of deceased infants, case studies of deaths, study findings (18 categories), accidental deaths and the nursery environment, types of accidents and ways of preventing accidents (age of infants and causes of death, and the conditions of nursing care at the time of accidents), and responses (of parents, nurseries, and government agencies) to the fatalities after they occurred.

As for the conditions of nursing at the time of deaths, I was surprised by the finding that a large number of infants had been sleeping face down when died, prompting the association to issue an warning–before the SIDS research team at the Ministry of Head and Welfare was created–that prone sleeping was risky.

This report was written with a hope that childcare professionals would draw useful lessons from the case studies of infant fatalities at many nurseries and thereby avoid allowing similar deaths to occur, remembering that it reflects the cries of 130 young lives which ended prematurely.

Reading this book, I could vividly feel the effort and energy which the Azumas and other members of the association had expended on the task of safeguarding and protecting precious little lives.

It is also highly significant that their study revealed the nature of the childcare problems and issues in Japan in those days.

I realize painfully, however, that little has been done by the Japanese government about these problems and issues, some 14 years after the book was published. It is very regrettable and sad that the valuable data contained in this book have not been put to much use.

Two years ago SIDS claimed the life of an infant at my day nursery. Reading this book, I feel as if each and every sentence in it were words written by the family of the infant who died at Mommy. Every time I read the book, my heart is filled with a mixed emotion of guilt, remorse, and sorrow about my failure to protect the precious little life. I sincerely hope that childcare practitioners throughout the country carry out their nursing duties in a manner that will not lead to similar remorse.

When I read this book, I had a strong desire to bring it to the attention of front-line childcare practioners as I was convinced that it would be very useful to them. Mr. Azuma graciously agreed to my request that the book be republished.

130 Little Cries is a book written and published by the families of deceased children. By contrast, Accidents and SIDS at Day Nurseries edited by Osaka Institute of Childcare and Education is a book written and published from childcare practitioners’ points of view. I believe that you will learn a great deal about effective childcare practices by reading both books. Even though families and childcare practitioners approach the issue from somewhat different viewpoints, both books reflect the wishes and prayers of everyone involved in childcare for safeguarding the precious lives of infants.

Click here “Studies of 130 Little Cries

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