02/19/2009: "Fun with misleading statistics"
An article on CTV.ca today warns that "One-fifth of childhood injuries happen at school". Because of this, they recommend that "more adult supervision may be needed".
While I don't disagree that adult supervision is necessarily a bad thing, let's look at the reality of the numbers.
In Saskatoon at least, children attend school from 9:00AM until 3:30AM. Many also play before and after school, but let's assume they don't. That amounts to 6.5 hours per day, 5 days a week, for a total of 32.5 hours a week at school. There are a total of 168 hours in a week. Do the math, and that means children are at school for 19.3% of the time, or just under one-fifth, in total.
But it gets better. Let's assume the children get eight hours of sleep per day. This will vary, of course, but it's probably a good lower estimate when considering that the younger children sometimes get much more. This adds up to 56 hours a week. Assuming the childhood injuries reported in the article only happen when the children are awake, this leaves 112 hours a week during which the injuries can occur. Of those hours, children spend about 30% of their time at school.
Now also consider that schools have both organized physical activity programs (aka gym class), and unorganized physical activity (recesses). Both of these will necessarily increase the risk for injury, as physical activity is a basic necessary precondition for being injured. On the other hand, while at home some do very little activity that could result in injuries. Those that are active, are frequently in organized sports of various kinds, which help train children in different ways to be active without injury. Actually, being inactive at home probably increases the risk of injury at school, but I have no numbers to back that up.
Given the reality of the statistics, and the physical conditions, I don't find any particular cause for alarm in this "one-fifth" number. If anything, our children are overprotected already -- not necessarily at school, but all over.