Of Toilets, Tots, Tabloids, Terror, and Research Grants

Hi Readers! This comes to us from a gal named Deborah who apparently gets as worked up by a story as I usually do! Nice not to be the only one! – L.

Dear Free-Range Kids: I’m not sure that this is one article you want to deal with the comments on (!), but the verbiage of it struck me:

Falling toilet seats: Rare but growing risk for boys

It isn’t the article so much as how it’s reported…a few examples:

“It’s a toddler basically potty training who doesn’t have the most advanced motor skills and they just don’t have the reflexes to move fast enough,” said Dr. Benjamin Breyer, the study’s lead author from the University of California, San Francisco.
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We are talking about something that ALL independently functioning males using western-style toilets go through as toddlers in a learning process.  Telling a mom who grew up with sisters that she might need to help a toddler boy as he’s learning?  Okay, I could see that being a useful thing.  But a “Rare, But Growing Risk”?  Please.  Define “risk.”
“To us, that was striking. That was unexpected. You think of the bathroom as a safe place,” he said.
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IT STILL IS.  How is this surprising or unexpected?  Are America’s researchers STILL so off on the number of people in our country (over 300,000,000) to the number of incidents? 
I mean, I fully understand that this could be a very painful event, and, if it was so painful or damaging that a doctor was seen, then that is a sad thing for those involved, but goodness!  A STUDY?  Involving RESEARCHERS?  I’ve read more than one account about people getting a dried noodle stuck under their fingernail.  Do I cringe in pain to read it?  Yup. Do I think we need a study or a news article ‘warning’ about it?  Nope. 
“Only five adults were caught by falling lids.”
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So I’m reading a FRONT PAGE NEWS ARTICLE about an event that killed no one, and, according to the study, apparently didn’t even permanently damage anyone, about a study that was done that injured five adults and approximately one thousand still-learning kids age seven and under, with ‘warnings’ about ‘danger.’   Got it.
The researchers write in the journal BJU International that while these injuries are rare, the number of “crush injuries” increased by 100 ER visits every year, with 1,707 ER visits reported in 2010.
This data can be the tip of the iceberg, because there could be kids who are hurt whose parents don’t bring them to the ER. So this could be an underestimation of how often this is going on,” Breyer said.

Fortunately, it doesn’t look like falling toilet seats lead to too much physical damage, but there may be some lingering mental trauma.

“The vast majority of these injuries were treated in the ER and then sent home… My sense is that it’s just a very traumatic and unpleasant experience to go through, but it would be important to know that there is no damage that happens to the penis or patient,” Breyer said.”

There you go –”tip of the iceberg,” “underestimation, because not all parents bring their kids to the ER” (if there’s not a need, don’t go!), “some lingering mental trauma,” “unpleasant experience”… Of all the genuine issues in the world, I’m just *trying* to picture someone pitching this as both an academic study AND as a newspaper article fifty years ago.  Crazy.

I stapled my thumb when I was five, because I had been watching my Mom staple things and was fascinated with it.  I still remember her laughing bewilderedly at me, as she took the staple out, bandaged my thumb, kissed my tears and showed me that staplers were only for paper, not people.  I didn’t develop a fear of staplers.  I learned how to use them.  She didn’t keep the stapler away from me.  She showed me how to use it

No one wrote an article. — Deborah

Mwah ha ha ha ha!!!

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