130 Little Cries~Study 3. Nature & Types of Fatalities: Toward Prevention (2)~

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2. Childcare Environment When Fatalities Occurred

It is important that we ascertain under what circumstances the fatalities occurred, and if fatalities occurred under satisfactory childcare conditions. This is so because, if fatalities did occur in satisfactory childcare environment, it would not be possible for us to take steps to prevent fatalities.

The truth of the matter, however, is that nearly all of the fatalities reported in this study had occurred while caregivers were absent from the nursery room. With the exceptions of the cases of bodily punishment and falls of infants from the caregiver, there was not a single case of fatality occurring in the presence of a caregiver. This is a very important fact in our effort to find ways of preventing fatalities.

We believe that many fatalities could have been avoided if a caregiver was present, or infants were always within a caregiver’s field of vision.

The points mentioned above are the fundamentals of sound childcare practices. In order to assure the safety of our children, it is important to make sure that every nursery have a nursing staff of a sufficient size so that a nursery room is always attended by a caregiver, and that nursery rooms are designed without walls or curtains between the caregiver and children so as not to hinder the vision of the caregivers.

>From these facts we may conclude that certain types of nurseries are inherently hazardous in that they have constitutional weaknesses. These nurseries include those which pursue profit maximization by minimizing the staff size at the expense of safety, the so-called “nursery mamas” who run a nursery without help, and “mini nurseries” which operate in private homes. In fact, many fatalities occur in day-care facilities of these types.

Furthermore, considering that fatalities occur often during infants’ afternoon nap time, we believe that the methods of managing afternoon naps should be examined carefully.

The nursery staff tends to spend afternoon nap periods for all sorts of activities–because children appear to need less care than when they are awake–such as getting a rest, writing notes to parents, having a meal, and going about chores such as tidying up the rooms.

Considering that the results of our study show that 80% of the fatalities that took the lives of infants of up to one year and two months–the age of Keiichi-chan’s death–occurred while the infants were asleep, it is crucial that a sound system of monitoring infants during afternoon sleeping hours be firmly established.

To summarize:

The two absolute minimum requirements for preventing fatalities are that caregivers (1) have children in their field of vision at all times, and (2) have a good grasp of children’s state of health. Other, more specific prerequisites for preventing fatalities would include: (1) paying close attention to infants who are sleeping face down, (2) having a good grasp of children’s state of health at all times and paying especially close attention to those who seem to be sick, (3) removing obstacles that may obstruct caregivers’ field of vision, (4) establishing a sound system of caring for children during their afternoon nap periods, and (5) securing a number of caregivers large enough to meet the above- listed requirements.

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