A majority of parents of young athletes recognize the importance of sports safety, but lack confidence in their own ability and the ability of coaches to prevent and recognize symptoms of key sports injuries, says a survey released today to kick off Safe Kids USA Sports Safety Week.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, over 3.5 million children annually age 14 and under are treated for sports-related injuries; up to half of these injuries are preventable. Commissioned by Safe Kids USA and Johnson & Johnson, the “National Survey of Parents’ Knowledge, Attitudes and Self-Reported Behaviors Concerning Sports Safety” finds 29 percent of parents surveyed feel coaches are able to identify and prevent injuries; 40 percent feel confident in their own abilities.

On the positive side, parents are focused on the topic of youth sports safety and want to learn more. Overwhelming majorities say their young athletes wear properly fitted equipment (88 percent), drink fluids regularly (85 percent), warm up before playing (76 percent), and take the same precautions when practicing as when playing in a game (73 percent).

In response, Safe Kids USA and Johnson & Johnson are sponsoring a national education campaign on Youth Sports Safety, which builds on a national awareness program initiated in 2010. It aims to provide parents, coaches, and league organizers the knowledge and skills to help keep child athletes safe.

With funding from Johnson & Johnson, Safe Kids USA’s coalitions will host over 100 free Sports Safety clinics nationwide for parents, coaches, and young athletes from April 2011 through this summer. And Safe Kids USA and Johnson & Johnson will conduct a free Youth Sports Safety Webcast on Mon., May 2, at 12 PM EDT (register now!) to teach more on the subject.

Conducted by Hart Research Associates as a follow-up to a similar survey conducted in 2000, the national telephone survey of 751 parents of youth athletes ages 5 to 14 updates important trends and benchmark findings related to sports participation and safety. It also explores emerging concerns such as overuse or “stress” injuries, concussions, and dehydration.

Notable Results:

  • Kids often are involved in more than one sport with an increased focus on team play, but spend less time actually participating in each. ?
  • The number of young athletes who have sustained multiple injuries while playing team sports has jumped from 15 percent in 2000 to 21% today. Most prevalent are sprains, muscle strains, bone or growth plate injuries, and heat-related illness.
  • 67 percent of parents believe football poses the greatest risk, surpassing hockey (10 percent), soccer (6 percent), and baseball/softball (5 percent).?
  • Parents view their child’s involvement in team sports as having many benefits, including learning the value of teamwork, creating healthful habits, promoting fun, and fostering friendships.
  • 57 percent of parents said their children’s coaches are certified in CPR, keep a first-aid kit on hand during play, and have an up-to-date copy of their kid’s medical history.

The Safe Kids Sports Safety clinics and Webcast will focus on the importance of a pre-participation medical evaluation; overuse injuries; dehydration and heat-related illness; and concussions. Visit Safe Kids Sports Safety for more about upcoming programs and to register for the free webcast on May 2nd.

Safe Kids USA is a member of Safe Kids Worldwide, a global network of organizations whose mission is to prevent unintentional childhood injury, the leading cause of death and disability to children ages 1 to 14.