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The safety/prevention of injury in australian children/ adolescent Essay Example

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The purpose of this report is to inform parents and healthcare professionals about the increasing rates of transport-related injuries among the adolescents aged between 12-24 years and the need to institute effective policies to address the issue of these injuries among the adolescents in Australia. The role of the Registered Nurse in adolescent health is particularly given great emphasis in this report especially the role of providing primary health care through aspects such as partnerships and advocacy, promotion of safety practices, prevention of injuries, and education.


Generally, successive health ministers in Australia have identified prevention of injuries as one of the seven National Health Priority Areas (AIHW, 2008). The increased focus on transport-related injuries has emerged from the realization that a great number of adolescents (12-24 years) die or live with permanent scars caused by these injuries. According to Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), more than 2 million young people aged 12-24 years reported to have experienced injuries of different kinds and levels in 2012 (ABS, 2013). The fatal and non-fatal injuries ranged from bruises and minor cuts to permanent disability and impairment caused by transport injuries (ABS, 2008). In this regard, adolescent Australians are identified as one of the groups that tend to be more at risk of experiencing injuries of different kinds, sometimes resulting to death.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) described transport injury as one of the leading causes of deaths among the adolescents aged between 12 to 24 years (AIHW, 2008). These injuries accounted for more hospitalization cases than all other causes combined (AIHW, 2008).Transport injuries accounted for more than 20% of injuries sustained by adolescents translating to 17,000 hospitalization cases or 450 per 80,000 adolescents in 2008 where 1 out of 5 adolescents were hospitalized due to injuries caused by transport accidents (ABS, 2008). Transport injuries accounted for two thirds of adolescent deaths (Harrison & Berry, 2008).

The Australian Bureau of Statistics reported that transport injuries among the adolescents occurred in highways and streets. This represented one-quarter of all transport accidents accounting for more than 10,000 cases of hospitalization every year (ABS, 2013). Two thirds of these injuries were sustained by young males (ABS, 2013). The proportions of injuries differ from one age to the other. 12% of transport injuries are sustained by adolescents between 12-14 years old, while 27% are sustained by adolescents between 18-24 years (Lubman, Hides, Yucel & Toumbourou, 2009). Among the adolescents aged 15-17 years, transport injuries account for 25 % of these injuries.

Transport injuries have far reaching effects on families due to the huge costs incurred in the treatment of the injured adolescents (Mathers, Vos & Stevenson, 2009). Furthermore, transport injuries result to wasted hours of work as parents and other family members spend time taking care of the injured adolescents at home including nursing them, feeding and washing their wears because transport accidents lead to fractured and broken body parts. In this regard, Registered Nurses (RN) are able to promote primary healthcare strategies to address the causes of transport injuries among the adolescents in Australia in order to prevent the increased incidences of these injuries.



Adolescence is a term used to describe the transition period between 12 and 24 years where an individual moves from childhood to young adulthood (Steinberg, 2008). During this period, young people experience numerous psychological and physical changes including discovery and disorientation and it brings issues about the need to search for self-identity and independence (Steinberg, 2008).

Injury is defined as trauma caused by external circumstances which may be psychological, chemical or physical (Henley, Kreisfeld & Harrison, 2008). Injuries may be caused by unintentional circumstances such as sporting events, road accidents and poisoning. Injuries may also be intentional such as assaults (Lennon et al, 2009).

Injury-related deaths

These are deaths classified in the category of International Classification of Diseases (ICD) as external causes of mortality and morbidity (AIHW, 2008).


This refers to the rate at which young adolescents sustain different levels of injuries (ABS, 2013)


This refers to the aspect of an individual being separated from the rest of the community members through admission into a healthcare facility such as a hospital (ABS, 2013).


Transport injury is one of the leading causes of hospitalization and death among the adolescent Australians (NPHP, 2009). Transport injury can lead to long term conditions and disabilities (NPHP, 2009). This type of injury has been identified as one of the National Health Priority Areas due to the impact on the health of adolescent Australians (AIHW, 2008). The patterns of these injuries in adolescents are different from the patterns in other age groups which emphasize the need for effective control and prevention mechanisms of these injuries among the adolescent Australians.

Adolescent is a stage of development where the young people assume independent roles away from their parents’ supervision (Steinberg, 2008, p.69). The increased responsibility resulting from independence during adolescence makes the adolescents more susceptible to behaviors that increase their risk for getting involved in transport accidents resulting to numerous transport related injuries (Steinberg, 2008, p.70). At the age of 15-18 years, the independence of the young people is characterized by increased exposure to hard drugs and alcohol, and learning new skills such as job and driving skills (Steinberg, 2008, p.70). Adolescents begin to experiment with different things such as alcohol and hard drugs which make them prone to different types of injuries such as transport accidents, falls, suicide, assault and accidental poisoning (Steinberg, 2008, p.71).

In the recent past, adolescents in Australia have been overrepresented in transport injuries due to risky behaviors such as drunkenness, and the influence of hard drugs and other substances which expose them to the danger of careless driving (ABS, 2013). Adolescents have also been overrepresented in intentional injuries such as assault (ABS, 2013). A report released by the Youthsafe Foundation in 2010 revealed that in New South Wales (NSW), more than 95 adolescents aged 15-24 years lost their lives while more than 10,000 sustained serious injuries due to transport accidents (Youthsafe, 2010). Additionally, more than 17,000 adolescents in NSW sustained different levels of injuries while working in trade or as laborers (Youthsafe, 2010). While the injuries from transport accidents were associated with drunkenness and use of substances, injuries in the workplace were related to a number of factors that include inadequate supervision, inexperience, lack of or limited training, ignorance, fatigue, and engaging in risky behaviors in the workplace (ABS, 2013).

Between 2006 and 2008, transport injury was ranked first in the list of leading causes of hospitalization among the adolescent Australians representing more than 30% of all cases of hospitalizations (NPHP, 2009). The pattern of hospitalization caused by transport injuries differed by sex. Among the male adolescents aged 13-14 years, 15-18 years, and 19-24 years, transport injury accounted for 30% of hospitalization cases (NPHP, 2009). Among the female adolescents aged 12-14 years, transport injury accounted for more than 20% of hospitalization cases, coming second to diseases related to digestive system (NPHP, 2009). However, among the female adolescents aged 15-18, and 19-24, transport injury was the second-leading cause of hospitalization after other conditions such as behavioral and mental disorders, and childbirth (NPHP, 2009).

According to a report by the Youthsafe foundation more than $100 million is spent annually in the treatment of transport-related injuries sustained by adolescents in Australia (Youthsafe, 2010). When other related costs such as loss of quality of life and income, and long term care are added, the total cost burden related to transport accident injuries among the adolescents in Australia amounts to over $800 million annually (Youthsafe, 2010).These figures reveal the fact that transport accident injury is a significant problem among adolescents in Australia.


As stated there above, adolescent is a stage of development associated with numerous risky behaviors (Steinberg, 2008). It is the stage when adolescents gain new levels of independence and tend to defy any form of adult supervision (Steinberg, 2008, p.72). Additionally, it is the development stage when adolescents are influenced easily by their peers to engage in risky behaviors such as alcohol and drug use that make them vulnerable to different types of injuries (Steinberg, 2008, p.73). At this stage decision making and hazard perception skills are still low in adolescents because the part of the brain related to these functions is still under development (Steinberg, 2008, p.74). The role of registered nurses in promoting primary healthcare services through education, promotion of safety living practices, partnerships and advocacy in collaboration with youth organizations such as Youthsafe foundation is paramount in prevention of transport injuries in adolescents.


A holistic approach in prevention of accident injuries in adolescents should be adopted by the nurses. This includes:

  • Educating the adolescents on safe living practices such as avoiding alcohol use and abuse of drugs and other substances which make them susceptible to accidents on highways and streets.

  • Educating the parents on the need to maintain supervision of their children both at home and outside the home environment and to provide assistance to their children on basic life experiences. This includes making sure that young people are advised on dangers of drunken driving.

  • Partnering with youth organizations to conduct youth seminars in order to educate the adolescents on the need to use their independence constructively.

  • Partnering with parents and other stakeholders so that parents can be educated about the need to say “NO” to their children demands, especially when the parents are not sure about the motive of the demand. For instance, parents should not allow their children to drive themselves on highways and streets without knowing their destinations an whether they have the required documents to drive.

  • Increasing advocacy about the need for training and close supervision of the adolescent at home and other social places.


Transport injury is one of the leading causes of hospitalization and deaths among the adolescents in Australia. In adolescents, transport injury is associated with risk-taking tendencies and behaviors that arise from the increased independence of adolescents. Statistics have shown that adolescents sustain both fatal and no-fatal injuries related to transport accidents that live them with permanent scars or permanent disabilities. The result is increased cost burden for families whose children are victims of transport injuries. The role of nurses is paramount in maintaining safety of adolescents through partnership and advocacy, education, promotion of safety living practices, in order to prevent transport related injuries among the adolescents.


Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). (2008). Work-related Injuries.  Cat. No. 6324.0. Canberra: ABS.

Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) (2013). Australian social trends, trade union members. Cat. No. 4102.0. Canberra: ABS.

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) (2008). National health priority areas report, injury prevention and control. AIHW Cat. No. PHE 3, Canberra.

Harrison J., & Berry, J. (2008). Serious injury due to transport accidents. Australia,

2003–04. Cat. no. INJCAT 101. Canberra: AIHW & ATSB

Henley, G., Kreisfeld, R., & Harrison, J. (2008). Injury deaths, Australia, 2003–04. Injury research and statistics series number 31. Cat. no. INJCAT 89. Adelaide: AIHW

Lennon et al. (2009). Injury prevention in Queensland. Report to Queensland Injury Prevention Council.

Lubman, D., Hides, L., Yucel, M. & Toumbourou, J. (2009). Intervening early to reduce developmentally harmful substance use amongst youth populations. Medical Journal of Australia , 187(7 Suppl.): S22-S25

Mathers, C., Vos, T., & Stevenson, C. (2009). The burden of disease and injury in Australia. AIHW, Canberra

NPHP (National Public Health Partnership) (2009). The national injury prevention and safety promotion plan: 2009–2014. Canberra: NPHP

Steinberg, L. (2008). Cognitive and affective development in adolescence. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 9 (2), 69-74.

Youthsafe Foundation (2010). Preventing serious injury in young people. Retrieved from http://www.youthsafe.org/factsnfigures/facts-a-figures.html