FREDERICTON (GNB) – The Child Death Review Committee has reviewed the deaths of three children whose families were known to the Department of Social Development. The committee’s recommendations were released today by Chief Coroner Gregory Forestell.

The committee reviews the deaths of children under the age of 19, including those who were in the legal care of the minister of Families and Children, or whose families were in contact with the department within 12 months before the child's death.

The first review was of a 13-year-old boy who died of asphyxia as a result of neck compression. The coroner ruled the death an accident. The boy was known to the Department of Social Development through its Access and Assessment program. The committee made the following recommendation in this case:

  • That an educational program or information session be conducted for children in middle school and high school on the dangers of the “choking game,” which is also referred to as the “pass out game” or “space monkey game”. This subject matter is not only a matter of public safety, but also a health issue; therefore, the committee would recommend that agencies such as police and the departments of Health and Education and Early Childhood Development, through their community-based and school programs, promote awareness of such a dangerous activity.

The second child was an eight-month-old boy whose death was attributed to sudden unexpected death in infancy with a contributing factor of environmental exposure to tobacco smoke. The boy’s parents were known to the department. The committee made the following recommendation in this case:

  • That the Province of New Brunswick, upon the discharge of any newborn child, reinforce educational information regarding the dangers of tobacco smoke and second-hand smoke to all parents and/or legal guardians.

The third child was a two-year-old boy who died as a result of drowning. The death was ruled accidental. The deceased was known to the department through its Access and Assessment program. The committee made the following recommendation in this case:

  • That the minister of Environment and Local Government, in an effort to limit child access to backyard pools, enact legislation to require four-sided fencing of a minimum height of four feet (1.22 metres), self-closing and self-latching gate(s), and the retrofitting of fencing for existing in-ground, above ground and inflatable pools.

A response is expected within the 45-day time frame established in the terms of reference of the committee.

The Child Death Review Committee advises the Office of the Chief Coroner, which is part of the Department of Justice and Public Safety.