Violence and Injury Prevention

Children Can't Fly campaign, New York, United States of America

‘Children Can’t Fly’ was a programme developed by New York City’s Department of Health in the early 1970s, to counter the high rates of death and injury among children following falls from windows. The programme involved a law requiring that window guards be installed in high-rise apartments in which young children lived. In addition to the law there was a voluntary reporting system which required that all childhood falls be reported so that a nurse could visit and assess the situation, counsel the parents with regard to preventing falls and provide window guards free of charge to families with young children living in areas of high-risk.

As a result of the programme, a significant reduction in the incidence of falls was recorded, particularly in the city’s Bronx district, where the number of reported falls declined by 50%. Many other cities around the world have since followed New York City’s lead. In addition to the lives saved, this intervention has been shown to be cost-effective in terms of savings in hospitalizations, rehabilitation and the costs of caring for injured or permanently disabled children.