Is leaving children unrestrained in cars a form of “child abuse”?

An RSA expert has called not restraining children properly in cars as a form of child abuse. In a report published in the Irish Independent, the expert cited statistics from the most recent study of seatbelt usage, conducted in 2015, which found that 90 per cent of drivers and passengers were wearing their seatbelt. However, the back seat rates were only at 80 percent.

“When we look at the number of children wearing a seatbelt, and remember most should probably be in a suitable child restraint, we find that one in ten children are not restrained at all,” the expert said. “While this represents an improvement on the wearing rate from the early 2000s, which stood at four out of ten children, this finding is still shocking.

“Children cannot be responsible for their own safety. So it’s up to us as parents or guardians to ensure their safety when travelling in a car. I’m afraid there is no other way to put this than to classify the failure to strap children in as a form of child abuse. Which is why drivers, who don’t strap their children in, now face three penalty points and an €80 fine.”

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Children should be in the appropriate childseat and restraint for their height and weight until they reach a height of 150cm or a weight of 36kg – which is when they can progress to a standard seatbelt. See here for your guide to child seats, or log on to the RSA website for more information on car safety.

What do you think? Is the RSA expert right in calling it child abuse? Is the penalty strong enough for parents who don’t strap their children in the car?