YOUNGSTERS under 14 should be made to wear cycle helmets to protect them from devastating head and brain injuries.

That is the idea behind a Private Members Bill presented to Parliament by Annette Brooke, MP for Mid Dorset and North Poole.

Her Cycles (Protective Headgear for Children) Bill would make it mandatory for children under the age of 14 to wear cycle helmets when they are cycling on roads and in open spaces.

In the last year, 5,717 children were admitted to hospital due to accidents while cycling, more than twice the number injured as pedestrians.

The law would not make criminals of those cycling without helmets, but would require proof of purchase of a helmet within 28 days to avoid receiving a fine.

“We have a duty to protect our children, and the Cycles (Protective Headgear for Children) Bill will do just that,” said Annette.

“Brain injury devastates the lives of individuals and their families. Children are at a higher risk because not only are their brains not fully developed but they are less experienced at cycling and on the roads in general.

“Brain injury lasts a lifetime. We owe it to children to protect them in the years before they are old enough to make their own minds up.

“More children wearing helmets will mean a reduction in child deaths and serious brain injury.

“Through this Bill I hope we can make cycling even safer, and encourage children to get out on their bikes.”

The Bill also has the ongoing support of the BMA, the brain injury charity Headway, Bicycle Helmet Initiative Trust, Child Brain Injury Trust, the road safety charity BRAKE and the Child Accident Prevention Trust.