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Should You Require Your Son to Wear a Bike Helmet?
Sometimes our sons do what we tell them without questioning it, but sometimes they resist every single thing we urge them to do, especially when our requirements infringe upon their fun. Our job as mothers becomes even more difficult when we come up against the dreaded peer pressure. After all, if their friends donít have to do it, why should they? In order to make sure that our boys really do the things that we feel are necessary (wearing a seat belt should never be optional, for instance), we often have to compromise on the things that arenít as important (the hairstyle or the earring).
Bike helmets can fall into the gray area, though. Bike helmets are pretty standard for our tiny boys when they are new riders, but as our sons get older, they often resist wearing their helmets, especially since many of their friends have begun to eschew them. Should you require your older son to wear a helmet when heís riding his bike? The answer may surprise you.
Findings on whether or not bike helmets reduce fatalities are mixed, particularly outside of the United States. Within the U.S., fatalities have gone down 15% since bike helmet legislation was first introduced, but studies demonstrating this fact do not take into account other key factors in reduced fatalities, such as an overall national reduction in bicycle use, which also resulted in reduced fatalities.
A January, 2010 study of twenty states with youth bicycle helmet laws confirms previous findings that these laws reduce youth fatalities, but the study also finds that they lead to an overall decrease in bicycle riding by young people. This unintended consequence of an inherently good law has ramifications of its own in a society plagued by overweight and under exercised boys.
In the final analysis, bike helmets save lives when a head injury is sustained in a bike accident, and the presence of a helmet forestalls a fatality. Statistics show that head injuries occur in around 45% of all bike accidents, so bike helmets would not even be a factor in more than half of bike accidents. If youíre a risk acceptant parent, these statistics may make you feel better about not requiring your son to wear a bike helmet, especially if the alternative is his not riding a bike at all.
For many mothers, the choice of whether or not her son wears a bike helmet is a moot point: no helmet, no bike. As your son gets older, though, and depending on where and how he typically rides his bike, you may decide that wearing a helmet is no longer crucial. As with all things related to your sonís safety, do your research and make sure that you are comfortable with the decisions that you have made.
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