Parents have a lot to worry about when it comes to their kids. After all, ensuring their ongoing safety, health, happiness and overall well-being is no easy task. In fact, the list of worries plaguing moms and dads can often seem endless, making it tough to distinguish between actual issues of concern and those that, in the end, don’t really matter.
Home security company A Secure Life conducted a survey of hundreds of parents across the United States in order to pinpoint parents’ worst fears pertaining to their children. What follows are the top five fears they found among parents, along with an analysis of how legitimate these fears are based on their likelihood to occur.
1. Fear: That Their Child Will Be Hurt In An Accident
Thirty percent of respondents said they worry about their child being injured in an accident. This one makes sense as according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, unintentional injuries — such as those caused by burns, drowning, falls, poisoning and road traffic — are the leading cause of death among children in the United States. For those 19 and under, more than 12,000 people die from these types of injuries, and 9.2 million are treated in emergency rooms.
While you certainly can’t bubble wrap your kid to protect them from everything, you can decrease the likelihood of accidents by taking precautionary measures. Make sure your child always wears a seat belt, for example, and make sure you follow the guidelines for car seat safety. To prevent accidents at home, go through a childproofing checklist, making sure heavy furniture is secure, safety gates are up, cabinets are locked and more.
2. Fear: Someone Will Hurt Or Attack Their Child
Unfortunately, violence against children is a disturbing fact of life. According to the Centers for Disease Control, homicide is the third leading cause of death among young people aged 10-24 years. Every day, more than 1,600 young people are treated for physical assault-related injuries. Although it can be difficult to suss out whether someone your child comes into with contact poses a threat, experts recommend having open conversations with your child about the people they spend time with, and getting to know the adults in their world, such as teachers, coaches and clergy.
“Listen up when they express concerns or uncomfortable feelings, and strategize as a group about how you can ensure the safety of one another’s kids,” Kristen Houser, vice president of communications and development for Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, told Parents.
While parenting philosophies around how much freedom and independence kids should have differ, experts recommend that you use discretion when deciding how much leeway your kids should have.
3. Fear: Their Children Won’t Feel Safe In The World
Considering the troubling statistics above, it’s only natural that on top of their own worry, parents worry about what their kids are feeling. We want our kids to have the confidence to go out into the world and live their lives without constant fear. When kids express concerns about their safety, it can be difficult to find ways to talk to them about their worries in a productive way, especially if your own fear is butting your judgment. When tragedy occurs, it’s important to have a conversation with your kids. Try to monitor your own reaction as you help them take action around the things they can actually control.
4. Fear: Their Kids Will Be Kidnapped Or Abducted
Having their child taken from them is, understandably, one of many parents’ worst nightmares. If you’re worried about stranger danger, you can rest easy knowing that less than 1 percent of all missing children have been taken by strangers or slight acquaintances. Instead, most missing children end up having run away from home, gotten lost or injured or having been taken by a family member, such as in the case of a custody dispute. Similarly, while parents may worry that technology gives predators greater access to their children than ever before, technology can also make kids safer.
“The biggest change has been the acquisition of cell phones, which allows parents and children to stay in touch with one another. So for example ‘benign missing’ episodes are likely to have declined a great deal because parents can call and find out what’s happening,” Professor David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes Against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire, told BBC.
5. Fear: Their Kids Will Be Bullied
Every parent hopes their child will be accepted and loved, so it’s heartbreaking to learn that your child has been the victim of bullying by their peers. According to stopbullying.gov, dedicated to educating children and parents about bullying and how to stop it, 28 percent of U.S. students in grades 6–12, 20 percent of students in grades 9–12, have experienced bullying.
The good news is that there is also growing awareness of the problem. Thankfully, everyone can help prevent bullying, including teachers. And parents can help by listening to their kids and taking their problems seriously, monitoring their internet activity and instilling kindness as a value.