Have your kids started school yet? Chances are, they are either already in school or getting ready to head back very soon, and with the start of a new school year comes the start of fall sports — soccer, basketball, football and field hockey just to name a few. A new report recommends that parents, kids and coaches need to have a long chat about the best ways to prevent injuries this season.

According to a new survey by the nonprofit advocacy group Safe Kids Worldwide, there is "an alarming gap" between what parents, kids and coaches know about sports safety and what is being done to reduce the risk of injury to young athletes. This holds true whether kids play on a sports team at school, on a county rec league, or even just when they are playing sports in the neighborhood.

For the survey, researchers talked to 1,000 kids in grades seven to 10 as well as 1,000 coaches, and 1,000 parents of young athletes. They found that 42 percent of kids had downplayed an injury so they could keep playing, while 53 percent of coaches said they have felt pressure from parents to put an athlete back in the game even after they had been injured. About 54 percent of kids said they had played injured and of those, 70 percent said they did so even after they told their coaches or parents that they were hurt.  

Most disturbingly, the survey found that 33 percent of kids were injured as a result of "dirty" plays, and 28 percent agreed that it was normal to play dirty to "send a message" during the game.  

What happened to doing your best and giving it your all? Why are we seriously teaching kids that they need to hurt other kids to "send a message?"  

The Safe Kids Worldwide report highlights the need for coaches and parents to get on board with the idea that kids should be taught to play hard — but play safely — so that everyone on the field can continue to play another day.

In 2013, roughly 1.24 million kids were injured so badly while playing sports that they had to go to the emergency room. That's 3,400 kids per day with injuries ranging from sprains and bruises to tears, broken bones and concussions.

Sure, accidents will happen. But with all of these injuries occurring in kids' sports, it may be time to start looking at why they are occurring. The best way that parents, coaches and kids can work together is to keep kids safe.  

Safe Kids Worldwide recommends that athletes, coaches and parents come together before the season starts to set ground rules on injury prevention and reporting as well as ways to help kids recover from injuries without feeling penalized. This could go a long way towards a safer — and more active — fall sports season for everyone.

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