Young children from the age of 4 years can be equipped with the skills to assist them to cross roads more safely. The study aimed to develop, disseminate and evaluate a parent-based intervention to reduce pedestrian injury in primary school age children in Perth, Western Australia. The objectives measured the how a three-year parent and school intervention could increase the number of children who use and cross the road safely with their parents. The objectives were to enhance parents’ knowledge of children’s developmental limitations under the age of 10 especially in relation to pedestrian safety, create models of safer pedestrian behaviours, provide support for safer road environments for their children, show the importance of parent involvement in pedestrian training for children under 10 years of age, and the increase ability to teach their children how to use roads more safely.
The Early Childhood Pedestrian Injury Prevention Project (ECPIPP) investigated building the capacity of parents and teachers of 4 year old children over a two-year period to address behavioural and environmental factors that support and protect children in the road environment. A three-year parent and classroom intervention was applied systematically targeting factors identified as protective. Specifically, the family intervention provided parents with strategies to enhance parent-child communication, parent modelling, parent road safety attitudes and beliefs, normative family standards about road safety, family management techniques and parenting style. The intervention also addressed parents’ road safety related knowledge, skills and behaviours needed to teach young children how to cross roads safely. Unlike typical school/home based interventions, where parents reinforce children’s learning from school, this intervention targeted parents as the primary ‘implementers’ of the program messages, complemented by activities provided by teachers in the classroom which reinforced the messages delivered by parents at home.
The impact of the intervention was evaluated by comparing data collected from parents in the intervention and comparison groups at each post test while controlling for their baseline responses. Based on parent report the Walk with Your Kids intervention appeared to have significantly impacted on the sample who returned surveys, in terms of parents’ behaviour (hand-holding), children’s road crossing behaviour and parents’ knowledge. In particular, intervention parents were 2.4 times more likely to report holding their child’s hand every time they crossed a road at Post-test 1 after the first stage of the intervention in 2004 (Kindergarten), 2.6 times more likely at Post-test 2 after two stages of the intervention (Pre-primary). Also, at Post-test 1 and Post-test 2 the intervention parents were twice as likely to i) respond correctly to at least eight of the ten pedestrian safety questions and ii) report that their child performed two or more correct road crossing steps, than were the comparison parents. In addition, the intervention effects on whether parents always held their child’s hand and their knowledge of young children’s limitations, seemed to be sustained one year after the intervention (when the students were in Year 1).
For further information about this project, please contact Associate Professor Stacey Waters at firstname.lastname@example.org
Professor Donna Cross
Canterbury District Health Board, Christchurch, New Zealand, Dr Greg Hamilton
Associate Professor Marg Hall
The Public Health Association of Australia, Associate Professor Peter Howat
Associate Professor Stacey Waters
Office of Road Safety, Mr Iain Cameron
Mr Terry Lindley