Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today launched "Take Good Care of Your Baby," a citywide child safety campaign. The advertising and public education initiative, developed collaboratively by the Administration for Children's Services (ACS) and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH), aims to make parents and caregivers aware of practices to avoid some of the most common and dangerous child and infant-related injuries, including window falls, drowning, shaken baby syndrome, and unintended poisonings in the home. Among the several messages in the public education campaign to be communicated to parents and caregivers is, "It's Safest for Baby to Sleep Alone," because of the increased risk for injury when adults share a bed with an infant. Joy Gonzalez, a mother whose four-year old son Zaire accidentally fell to his death from a Brooklyn apartment building last April, joined Mayor Bloomberg in announcing the Administration's child safety campaign at a press conference at Harlem Hospital's Birthing Center. Mayor Bloomberg was also joined by ACS Commissioner John Mattingly, DOHMH Commissioner Dr. Thomas Frieden, and Alan Aviles, Acting President of the Health and Hospitals Corporation.
"Information is power and in the case of producing the highest quality of parenting, studies show that parent education initiatives like 'Take Good Care of Your Baby' can have a profound, widespread impact on the safety and well-being of our kids," said Mayor Bloomberg. "As our Administration works to help New Yorkers become the best parents they can be, we are also hopeful that this will become part of our broader effort to educate New Yorkers about the steps they can take to lead longer, healthier lives."
The "Take Good Care of Your Baby" campaign will be supported by Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) and Kids In Distressed Situations (K.I.D.S), a national charity of retailers, manufacturers and licensors as they distribute cribs and other juvenile products to families in need who are identified by Children's Services. Additionally, a short DVD film for parents, caregivers and all childcare professionals, "A Life to Love: Preventing Accidental Injury to Our Most Precious Resource," is available for free to the public by calling 311.
"Many good, thoughtful parents and caregivers just aren't aware of the potential dangers their children face in what may seem like a harmless situation," said Children's Services Commissioner John B. Mattingly. "With this campaign, we are showing parents how to avoid those safety risks, helping everyone to be the best possible parents they can be."
When investigating cases of alleged child neglect or abuse, ACS officials will automatically provide cribs to families who have such a need. Families who are being reunited with their children under ACS supervision will also be provided with cribs when necessary.
"Every infant death is a tragedy, and many deaths are preventable. Before birth, children should not be exposed to drugs, alcohol, or tobacco smoke," said Health and Mental Hygiene Commissioner Frieden. "All children have the right to live in a safe home environment, free from violence. Children must also be kept away from environmental poisons, like lead and tobacco. And putting them 'back to sleep' is critical to having them rest both soundly and safely. Together, we can make sure the next generation will be even healthier."
In 2004, ACS investigated the deaths of 15 children who died in co-sleeping situations, an increase of 200% over the five co-sleeping related deaths investigated by ACS in 2003. A recent report by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner found that co-sleeping was a possible factor in at least 65 infant deaths between 2000 and 2003.
Print advertisements promoting "Take Good Care of Your Baby," designed by Lotas Patton New York, a Manhattan based advertising agency, will appear on subways, buses and billboards beginning this month throughout New York City. Over the coming months, the messages in the City's $1.5 million, one-year child safety campaign will focus on ten safety areas and messages including:
- It's Safest for Baby to Sleep Alone.
- Child proof your home
- Water safety
- Window guards save lives!
- Don't Shake Your Baby
- How to choose your caregiver wisely
- Anger management
- Don't leave children alone
- Be the Best Parent you can be: Get Help for Drug and Alcohol Abuse
- ACS: We're here to help.
Parents and caregivers can call 311 for more detailed information on all of these child safety topics, or visit the Children's Services website, www.nyc.gov/acs. The Health Department offers information in a variety of languages for new parents and their baby, which can be obtained by calling 311 or logging on to www.nyc.gov/health.
Also joining Mayor Bloomberg and City officials in announcing "Take Good Care of Your Baby" campaign was President of K.I.D.S Janice Weinman, JPMA Executive Director Mike Dwyer and Senior Vice President of juvenile manufacturer The First Years Company Richard Schaub. Other participants included Dr. Lorraine Boyd, Medical Director of DOHMH's Bureau of Maternal, Infant and Reproductive Health; and Dr. Katherine Grimm, Medical Director of the Children's Advocacy Center of Manhattan and a member of the ACS Accountability Review Panel.
Edward Skyler/Paul Elliott (212) 788-2958
Sharman Stein/Lisi de Bourbon (Administration for Children's Services) (212) 341-0999
Sandra Mullin (Department of Health and Mental Hygiene) (212) 788-5290