First there was the puzzling plunge in the crime rate. Now there is an equally puzzling plunge in the death rate among children due to accidents. Accidents are the leading cause of death for people under age 20.
The CDC reports that the number of deaths caused by accidents (the CDC calls it unintentional injuries) among people aged 0 to 19 fell from 12,441 in 2000 to 9,143 in 2009. The death rate fell from 15.5 to 11.0 deaths per 100,000 population during those years--a 29 percent decline. Deaths rates were down sharply for most types of accidents ranging from motor vehicle deaths (whether passenger, pedestrian, or bicycle in the wrong place), to drowning, fire, and falling. Accidental death rates were up for only two causes of death--suffocation among infants and poisoning (due to the increase in prescription drug use).
What's behind the decline? My theory: helicopter parents. Those obnoxious, indulgent, and overly involved parents are keeping their children safe and out of trouble.
Source: CDC, Vital Signs: Unintentional Injury Deaths among Persons Aged 0-19 Years -- United States, 2000-2009, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report