Up to 96 percent of playground slides in 50 public parks in the country’s five major cities were found to be substandard, posing a threat to child safety, the Jing Chuan Child Safety Foundation said yesterday.
“We found slides to be the biggest safety hazards in public park playgrounds,” foundation executive director Lin Yue-chin (林月琴) said.
The claims follow a major review of playground child safety by the pressure group.
According to investigations undertaken last month and this month by the foundation and SGS Taiwan, a testing and certification services provider, most slides in public parks in Taipei, New Taipei City (新北市), Greater Taichung, Greater Tainan and Greater Kaohsiung fell short of national safety standards.
“We selected 10 public parks in each of the cities for the survey and found that the slides in only two of the 50 parks met the standards,” Lin said.
Most slides either lacked protective railings or had structural flaws that left children vulnerable to a variety of dangers, including falling, pelvic or spinal injuries sustained while sliding and suffocation where the slides were enclosed in a tube, she said.
Unsafe playground equipment serves to highlight one of the many threats to children’s safety in Taiwan, Lin said, adding that there are four major categories for potential harm: environmental safety (referring to homes, schools and public spaces), traffic safety, recreational safety and learning safety.
The foundation complained that despite a 2007 government decision to designate May 15 as Child Safety Day, it had failed to provide resources to back the vision, budgeting an average of only NT$1.8 million (US$61,000) per year for child safety measures and programs.
While the number of children dying because of accidents has fallen in recent years, there were still 187 children killed in serious accidents in 2010 and 2.16 million children needed medical attention due to accidents that same year.
The figures, compiled by the Department of Health, do not specify where or how the accidents occurred, Lin said, urging the government to set up a databank providing more detailed data so that the group could better target accident prevention measures.
The foundation also recommended that the government draft a white paper on child safety, in which it clearly lists funding and setting goals for improving child safety in Taiwan, Lin said.