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Pupils made 2015 claims for injuries last year

LUCY TOWNEND
Last updated 12:00 23/04/2014

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The number of Kiwi kids injuring themselves at schools has risen, with Manawatu pupils plagued most by strains, sprains and fractures.

New figures provided by ACC show pupils, aged between 5 and 19, in the Manawatu, Horowhenua, Rangitikei and Tararua districts, as well as Palmerston North city, made 2015 claims for injuries at schools last year, up from 1976 in 2012.

Manawatu principals say the statistics shouldn't ring alarm bells because it could be a sign that children are becoming more adventurous, or perhaps their parents are more protective.

Nationally there were more than 77,453 youngsters injured at schools last year, an increase on the 71,753 hurt in 2012 and costing taxpayers nearly $16.5 million in claim costs.

More boys were hurt than girls, with 46,055 boys nationally noting an injury compared to 31,398 of their female counterparts, and in the wider Manawatu area 1192 boys were hurt compared to 823 girls.

The single biggest cause of injury to Kiwi pupils were soft-tissue strains and sprains, such as rolled ankles, which resulted in 46,074 claims worth more than $8.1m.

Children getting objects stuck in an orifice or having an amputation were the least common injury.

NZEI Te Riu Roa national president Judith Nowotarski said more injuries being reported was nothing to be alarmed about.

"Physical activity is an important part of the curriculum and kids' social and physical development.

"The alternatives to physical play are poor motor skills and obesity, and playground injuries are an inevitable part of growing up."

Manawatu Primary Principals' Association president David Reardon said schools took safety very seriously to ensure mishaps were minimised.

"Maybe children are really pushing the limits and bringing adventure and a real physicality to their play," he said.

"If so, that would be a good thing - it could [also] reflect parents checking every injury out, which once again would be a good thing."

Ross Intermediate principal Wayne Codyre said the number of knocks, bruises and bumps being reported was a reflection of growing school rolls.

"Accidents are a part of life and will always happen."

A level of personal responsibility needed to be factored in.

"Schools are responsible for ensuring their grounds and buildings are safe for all and the current standards are more than sufficient. That said, if a person wants to try and climb a fence and then injures themselves it's through their stupidity and not the lack of safety that it happens.

"We talk often of the dangers of ‘over-protecting' kids - perhaps this approach has meant that [pupils] are not as capable of coping with minor falls and accidents as they used to."

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Injuries are the major cause of hospital admissions and death for school-aged children, but ACC has specific programmes for pupils to learn about reducing accidents.

ACC spokeswoman Stephanie Melville said the information provided varied in detail and the numbers weren't specific to in-school time or enrolled students.

The injury reports were likely to include young people using grounds for outside school hours activities, she said.

- Manawatu Standard

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