Earlier this week, a post popped up on a Facebook group I belong to for child passenger safety technicians. The tech who shared the link was concerned because the post was a review of a car seat, which showed a car seat being used entirely incorrectly. The straps were positioned wrong, the chest clip was too low and worst of all, a child who could not be more than 6 months old was pictured forward facing in the seat. The review itself mostly skirted by discussing anything of substance and instead was largely focused on how pretty the colors were.
I was alarmed on a few levels. I knew that if that child was in that seat, as pictured, and in a crash, she would likely be severely injured, if not killed. It doesn’t matter how many safety features are built into a car seat, if you use it against the manual and against the law and all safety recommendations, it’s useless. I was also frustrated because I think that reviews like that make parents look stupid. I may be a car safety nut, but every parent I know cares more about how long their child will fit in a seat, how it will fit in their car, if it’s relatively straightforward to use, etc., rather than what colors it comes in. But this second issue is beside the point.
After several of us (politely) expressed our concerns to the car seat company, the review was pulled and pictures were retaken with the child rear facing. The straps were still wrong and the review at no point acknowledged that the previous picture were misleading. In fact, in the comments, the poster was endorsing forward facing children at 1 and 20 pounds, which absolutely everyone in the car seat world agrees is entirely unsafe.
Once again, some CPSTs reached out to the poster in the comments of the post. I was one of them and I can tell you that my comment was 100% polite and simply trying to explain why recommending 1 and 20 pounds was not a good idea. As she had told another CPST to “do some research” I included a few links that would be useful for her and other parents interested in the seat and in car seat safety. Not only did my comment not get published, but I’ve been blocked from the website. This blogger wants parents to do research but doesn’t want any research to be shared?
Honestly, this is part of a bigger issue I’m personally struggling with. This person is calling me a “troll” because I want to help keep children safe by providing research. My only goal in sharing what I’ve learned about car seats is to keep children safe. I have no ulterior motive. I don’t think I’m a better parent. I really just want to help change the fact that car collisions are the #1 killer of children and that 75% of car seats are being used incorrectly. I’m not afraid to be blocked by people over this, I just wish there was a better way.
How do we incite change without being blocked and being called trolls? How can we teach parents what’s best if any attempt to do so is seen as a personal affront? I’m genuinely asking because I don’t even know anymore. We have a major issue with car seat safety in this country and it seems to be more difficult than ever to help parents learn how to keep their children safe in the car.