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Chairman Tenenbaum Remarks at the Safe Kids USA Child Injury Prevention Conference, Federal Plenary Session

July 01, 2013

Kate [Carr, Safe Kids USA CEO], thank you for bringing the federal leaders in safety together.  The work that Safe Kids does in Washington, within the coalitions, and around the world has made a positive difference for millions of families.

David [Strickland, NHTSA Administrator], Debbie [Hersman, NTSB Chairman], Mary [Wakefield, HRSA Administrator] and Victor [Mendez, FHA Administrator], I’m so pleased to be with all of you this morning.

Before I look ahead to the next decade, I want to take a moment recognize what we have accomplished at CPSC during the past four years.

I know some of you are still waiting for the coffee to wake you up, but I want to hear from all of you.

If you are proud that the United States now has the strongest toy safety standards in the world, let me hear you say, “Safe Kids.”

Now, you’re waking up.  If you are proud that the United States has the strongest crib standards in the world, let me hear you say, “Safe Sleep.”

And, if you are proud that the government is working harder than ever before to keep toxic metals and chemicals out of the reach of children, let me hear you say, “Safer Homes.”

I like that.  Well, this is what we have been achieving at CPSC during the past four years.

  • Many durable juvenile products now have robust mandatory standards, instead of voluntary standards.
  • Our nation’s toy standards are now mandatory, instead of being voluntary.
  • There are strict limits on lead, cadmium, arsenic, and phthalates in various children’s products.
  • A capstone moment in CPSC’s implementation of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act was the creation of independent, third-party testing of children’s products.  Independent testing is taking place all over the world.
  • We have used all of our know-how and all of the tools in our toolbox to protect kids from dangerous, high-powered magnets—in toys and desk sets.
  • CPSC staff have filed lawsuits, initiated federal rulemaking, and issued compelling warnings—via YouTube and our Neighborhood Safety Network.  The marketplace of high-powered magnet sets is smaller today, because of the work of our staff.
  • The Nap Nanny is no more.  The manufacturer and key retailers have recalled the product, which was involved in five tragic deaths.  Warn families in your community to not use the Nap Nanny infant recliner.
  • Babies, toddlers, and children are safer today than they were four years ago.  They are safer today because the laws are stronger, and they are safer today because of the selfless work performed by every single person in this room.

Safer kids and brighter future.  That is what we are all striving for, right!

Back in February, I spelled out my vision for keeping children safe in the year’s ahead.  This vision is very much in line with the CDC’s goal to reduce childhood injuries over the next decade. 

The approach that I believe is needed to guide CPSC going forward, is based on what I call: the “Next Generation Philosophy.”

To CPSC, the next generation philosophy means that we will never be satisfied with the status quo, and we will always push to improve the state of consumer safety for the generation to come.

This philosophy is rooted in a system of safety built to protect today's children and tomorrow's children—the next generation—and to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past.

The system is driving CPSC's work in the same direction as Safe Kids—in the direction of injury prevention.

The system has established protections for acute and chronic hazards. And, the system reaches from the source of manufacture, to import, to the marketplace.

And, it is built to last.

Today's children deserve a product safety system built to reduce their vulnerabilities, not expose them.

The great poet, Maya Angelou, once said: “Children's talent to endure stems from their ignorance of alternatives.”

It is our responsibility to establish the advances in product safety, so that a child's talent can endure—endure without harm.

Our children deserve a safe and healthy upbringing, with fewer unintentional injuries than the generation before.

Now, I am not talking about an environment free of risks.  Life is risky, and we are made stronger by our ability to learn how to persevere.

But, I reject the notion, as some espouse, that my generation survived just fine riding in cars without child seats, riding bicycles without helmets, and playing on metal playground equipment without safe surfacing.

Even with all of the progress we have made, we have more work to do.

There are fringe thinkers who want to roll back our progress in injury prevention and recklessly expose children to preventable risks.

We have come too far, and safety is advancing too fast, for us to turn back now.

My belief in the Next Generation Philosophy actually stems from my past work in education and has continued during my tenure at CPSC.

  • From preparing young children to be proficient at basic math, to teaching young athletes how to protect their brains on the playing field.
  • From preparing teenagers to be the first in their family to go to college, to making sure a ride on an ATV or a skateboard does not end their dream to walk across a college campus.

My life's work has always been about achieving healthy upbringings and bright futures for our children.

All of you are working to achieve the same thing.

I’m on your side and CPSC is on your side.

The system of safety that CPSC has established is all about being proactive and applying strategies that can save lives.

We can do this, but we must be all in and all working together.

Thanks, Kate.

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