According to the reasoning used by several anti-smoking groups and a number of anti-smoking advocates to argue that smoking around infants and children is a form of child abuse, the use of crib bumpers (soft cushioning placed around the edges of a crib to prevent an infant from bumping or trapping their head against the crib bars) can also be considered to be child abuse.
A new study published in the Journal of Pediatrics has concluded that the use of crib bumpers significantly increases the risk of infant death by suffocation or strangulation. According to the researchers: "Many infants lack the motor development needed to free themselves when they become wedged between the bumper pad and another surface." The article reports that "soft bumpers meant to prevent babies from bumping or trapping their heads against the hard bars of a crib can strangle or suffocate the infants."
Some anti-smoking groups and advocates have argued that smoking around infants and children is a form of child abuse (post #1; post #2; post #3; post #4; post #5; post #6; post #7; post #8; post #9) because the secondhand smoke exposure increases the risk of ear infections, respiratory infections, asthma and other respiratory problems, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
One of the most prominent national anti-smoking groups - Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) - states on its web site that smoking around children is "the most prevalent and dangerous form of child abuse."
Since the use of crib bumpers also significantly increases the risk of infant death, the reasoning used by these anti-smoking groups and advocates would also lead to the conclusion that using crib bumpers is a form of child abuse.
The Rest of the Story
This exposes the danger of confusing risk and harm, and of conflating with child abuse parental behaviors that merely increase the risk of an adverse health outcome, but do not cause direct and immediate damage.
Most of us (perhaps all of us) would acknowledge that using crib bumpers is certainly not equivalent to child abuse. Yet the reasoning that would support such a classification is precisely the same reasoning being used to support the classification of smoking around children as a form of child abuse.
This is yet another example of where anti-smoking groups have abandoned sound reasoning. It is another example of how the anti-smoking movement has been transformed into a crusade.