Given the evidence pointing at increased risk of injury for refugee children, it should follow that preventative measures must be in place. After all, a child’s right to safety and protection from injury is recognized by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. So how do we ensure that we keep Canada’s smallest immigrants out of harm’s way? The solution may lie in the power of education.
Causation and Correlation
Young newcomers may be more susceptible to injury based on social and economic circumstances. A newly-arrived immigrant is more likely to experience financial hardship than a long-time Canadian which can have a direct impact on their health and safety. Crowded housing situations, lack of proper supervision, and unfamiliarity with Canadian safety laws and regulations can all be contributing factors to higher rates of injury.
While endeavouring to change an entire demographic’s way of living is impractical at best, impossible at worst, there are measures that can be taken to increase the safety of immigrant children. At a professional level, physicians are well-positioned to help newcomer parents adjust to parenting in a way that best protects their children.
In addition to dispensing medical advice and recommendations, health care professionals can leverage their expertise by including preventative guidance in their practice. Recent immigrants may be unfamiliar with Canadian health and safety regulations and given their recent upheaval, they may have other priorities to focus on. For instance, a family who has recently escaped a dangerous or violent situation in their home country may not have the time to read up on proper car seat installation or know about helmet laws.
While some child safety rules may seem evident to Canadians, it should not be taken for granted that a newcomer will be familiar with them. The mandatory use of child car seats, for instance, is not universal, nor are regulations concerning safe sleeping arrangements.
Recognizing Impracticalities and Limits
In addition to navigating the challenges that come with a new country and culture, immigrants and refugees must also often contend with language barriers, limited resources, and restricted availability when it comes to safety equipment.
Understanding that Canadian newcomers face exceptional circumstances when it comes to raising and protecting their children is a critical step in helping them move towards prevention and keeping our country’s youngest and newest residents safe.