CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The deadly Columbine and Virginia Tech school shootings put parents on high alert and forced changes on school campuses to deal with such tragedies.
While parents should encourage their children to always be safety-minded, school shootings shouldn't be their greatest concern. The massive school shootings and deadly kidnappings may dominate news headlines and play over and over again on TV, but that can cause a false sense of insecurity for parents.
The author of a book called "The Paranoid Parents Guide," says based on surveys, many parents worry about tragedies their children likely will never encounter.
According to those surveys, parents rank their top five fears as kidnappings, school snipers, terrorists, dangerous strangers and drugs. In reality, those aren't the most common ways children get hurt or killed. If parents really want to keep their children safe, they should keep a close eye on them at the beach and in the pool because drowning ranks as the number five main cause of death for children and teenagers.
In February of last year, two teens and a woman drowned when their boat sank in Georgetown and this past summer, a 6-year-old boy died after drowning at a North Charleston pool.
The fourth main cause of death for children and teens is suicide. Tyler Clementi, 18, took a deadly dive off the George Washington Bridge after his roommate at Rutgers University streamed video of Clementi and another man having a sexual encounter.
A recent vigil in downtown Charleston brought attention to the growing problem of suicides related to anti-gay bullying. Suicide is the third-leading cause of death for 15 to 24-year-olds, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
The number two and three causes of injury or death to children is abuse and/or neglect. In Mt. Pleasant this summer, Ashley and Charles Gordon were charged with homicide by child neglect in the death of their 9-month-old son Drew. Police say the baby wasn't getting enough food.
Earlier this summer, Shaquan Duley in Orangeburg made national headlines after deputies say she confessed to smothering her two young sons and then strapping their bodies into their car seats and rolling the car into the Edisto River. Both cases stemmed from abuse and/or neglect.
The number one reason for injury or death to a child is in a car accident. Based on the facts, parents should protect their children in ways like telling their teens to stay off cell phones when they are behind the wheel or by teaching them how to swim.
One parenting expert says that focusing on rare dangers such as school shootings and kidnappings, distracts parents from the common dangers children really face.