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There are many misunderstandings and misconceptions about the crash environment that lead even the best-intentioned parent or pediatrician to believe a child is "safe" facing forward when s/he is still very young. These come from obsolete ideas and advice that may still appear in older pamphlets and pediatric literature but that have been updated in recent years.
The most prevalent misunderstanding is the idea that muscle strength and control have anything to do with whether it is reasonable to face a child forward and subject his/her neck to the extreme forces pulling the head away from the body in a frontal crash.
This will be a somewhat technical explanation, but it is an important concept to understand. When a car hits something else at, say, 25 miles per hour to 30mph, it will come to a stop at a deceleration rate of about 20 or 25G. But, due to the time lag between when the vehicle stops and the occupants eventually do, the head of a forward-facing adult or child may experience as much as 60 or 70G.