A video posted to the Eastern Virginia Medical School Facebook page is garnering a lot of attention in the days since its debut.
Featuring a fictional mother and son, the latter of whom is seriously injured in an accident after not being properly secured into a booster seat, the video also includes expert testimony from doctors at various hospitals, including Eastern Virginia Medical School and Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters, warning of the dangers of not using booster seats with kids whom parents think of as “old enough” to go without.
The subject of the video, a 9-going-on-10-year-old boy, suffers numerous internal injuries, including damage to his “neck’s vital structures,” all because he was not properly restrained in a child booster seat. Instead, the boy was restrained using the standard-car-issued adult restraint, which, according to the doctors in the video, can cause massive internal trauma when it does not lay across the lap or the chest correctly.
As the doctors in the video state, a poorly-secured child can suffer internal organ damage from a seat belt that sits above the hips and on the abdomen. Furthermore, a child whose shoulder restraint sits above the chest and hits at the neck can suffer injuries to the spinal column, trachea, and vascular system.
Doctors recommend that parents not transition children from a booster seat to an adult restraint until they are at least 4’9″. Moreover, they emphasize that a child should always ride in the back seat of a vehicle until age 13.
I will be the first to admit that I am guilty of allowing my oldest son, who is 9, to ride in the car without a booster seat. One of the reasons is because the cars we currently own do not fit 3 car and booster seats across the back seat. As we do not have a third row in either of our vehicles, it is necessary for them to ride side-by-side in the one back seat that we have.
Another reason I have allowed my 9-year-old to ride without a booster seat is because of his age. I truly believed he was old enough to ride without. We did at that age, didn’t we? Heck, we children of the 80s were often lucky to be wearing a seat belt at all.
But neither of these reasons is excusable, especially not when it means putting my son’s safety on the line, which is one of the reasons we are going car shopping this coming weekend and purchasing a vehicle that will comfortably fit 3 children and 3 car/booster seats.
Every parent’s circumstances and financial situation is different, and it’s not always possible to 100% follow car seat safety guidelines, particularly if doing so is difficult because one owns a pickup truck with no back seat, for example, or if it calls for purchasing a new vehicle. But bending over backwards to make sure our children are safe is a priority, even if that means making some sacrifices elsewhere to make it happen.
We are all doing the best we can at this parenting gig, and there are very few parents who throw caution to the wind when it comes to their kids’ lives. Regardless of our means, staying informed and doing what we can to ensure their happiness and health is important.
And while some may, I promise I won’t judge you for not having your tween in a booster seat. I will only ask that you take expert advice to heart and do what you are able for your children.
I know I have a lot of work to do myself in this department.