About every three days a child on a U.S. farm dies from an agriculture-related incident.  Every day some 38 children are injured on a U.S. farm.

Machinery is involved in 25 percent of youth fatalities on a farm. Motor vehicles, including ATVs, account for 17 percent of youth farm fatalities and 16 percent result from drowning. Vehicles and machinery account for 73 percent of the deaths of working youth on farms.

Those grim statistics come from the National Children’s Center for Rural and Agricultural Health and Safety (NCCRAHS), a program of the National Farm Medicine Center and the Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation in Marshfield, Wis.

Deborah Reed, a professor in the College of Nursing at the University of Kentucky, consults on farm health issues, including child safety and aging. She comes from a farm family and relies on that experience, in addition to her professional expertise, to help educate rural families on safety issues.

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“We’re making progress,” Reed says. Twenty years ago the rate of youth death on U.S. farms was one per day. “One child is one too many,” she says. Some of the improving statistics result from the smaller number of farms and thus fewer children on farms. Also, fewer farm children are doing farm work. She says education and outreach efforts also make a difference.

It’s a complex issue that includes a tradition of teaching a strong work ethic, a child’s desire to please parents and the lack of available day care in rural communities, especially during peak work periods on the farm—planting and harvest, for instance.