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February 4, 2010

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Fewer accidents but increase in students killed on the road

TRAFFIC accidents became one of the major killers of local schoolchildren last year, though the total number of accidental deaths was down.

Sixteen students died in road accidents last year, compared to just 5 the previous year, according to the 2009 Shanghai Primary and Secondary School Students Safety Report issued yesterday.

"The increase was due to illegal practices by earth-moving truck drivers, students jaywalking and parents illegally riding mopeds to carry students to school," said Yang Yongming, director of the Teenager Protection Department of the Shanghai Education Commission.

"Schools and parents should enhance protection of students in the winter break, a high-risk period for student accidents," he added.

The education authorities also called for police and traffic authorities to work to improve road conditions around schools and residential neighborhoods.

According to the report, 68 of the total of 1.44 million students in local primary and secondary schools died in 1,717 accidents last year.

In contrast, 71 students died in 1,756 accidents in 2008.

Girls accounted for 41.2 percent of the total deaths, a 10.2-percentage-point increase over the previous year.

Eight primary and secondary school students took their own lives last year, the same as in 2008.

The education authorities said that the reasons for the suicides included bad relationships between family members and with friends, sexual harassment, poor exam scores and the forced choice of universities and majors.

Drowning remained the top killer, but dropped a little. Twenty-seven students died in drowning accidents, 16 fewer than the previous year.

The education authorities plan to take steps to improve students' self-protection skills and mental health this year.

Teachers have been asked to pay particular attention to children from poor and divorced families and students in the last year of school.


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