American and Canadian pediatricians have come together to condemn youth boxing. In a new policy paper, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Canadian Paediatric Society argue that risk of concussion is too great a risk for children’s developing brains.
Coming out against children boxing seems at first kind of random and unnecessary, until you realize that, in the U.S., 18,000 kids 19 years old and under take part in boxing programs around the U.S. And that a majority of these kids are economically and socially disadvantaged. Boxing has kept them in a sport and out of gangs.
Injuries in more common youth sports like soccer and football have a higher rate of injuries, but these aren’t sports which require intentional blows to the head and torso. Repeated concussions can lead to seizures, dementia, and mess up brain processing abilities.
Still, boxing has a payoff. From the L.A. Times:
“I think that’s an incredibly compelling argument. I think it’s very very tough [to ignore the benefits of boxing],” said Dr. Danelle Fisher, vice chair of pediatrics at Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, who was not involved in the paper. “Some of these kids, just by getting them off the street, are so much safer.”
“But while you’re getting them out of the neighborhood where there are gangs, drugs and other dangers,” she added, “you want to make sure you’re not also putting them at risk.”
Concussions in kid brains is serious and can have long-term consequences, but so can gang life. I wonder if there are other alternatives or ways to make boxing safer.The pediatricians’ paper recommends steering kids over to safe sports like swimming or basketball. But without the right kind of facilities, these can’t be year-round activities.
So what’s the answer?
Photo: familymwr via flickr