Developing safety risk intelligence an analysis of effective safety education programs for children in early childhood settings

2017-03-02T02:42:30Z (GMT) by O'Neill , Susie
Injury is the leading cause of death and disability of Australian children, greater than any illness or disease, yet it is rarely at the forefront of child health programs. Part of the reason the childhood injury problem has not been brought to the public’s attention is that it is hidden behind the global success in reducing deaths from illness and diseases. In some cases this has made the childhood injury problem more pronounced which in turn has stimulated the momentum in childhood injury prevention. Strategies to reduce childhood injuries generally have focused programs and policies that target discrete specific risk factors and safety. Initiatives that involve making physical changes such as hot water tap temperature regulators, stair guards and fencing around swimming pools have been effective. However, approaches viewed by issue rather than holistically tend to be independent of strategies that provide children with a sense of agency in their safety learning. There appears to be an absence of studies examining a “collective risk intelligence” as a form of safety capacity building. In drawing upon cultural-historical theory, this study sought to examine the effect on preschool children’s behaviour and reasoning about safety as a result of participation in a program called “SeeMore Safety”. This study addresses a notable gap in the literature on this important issue. Early childhood education has the potential to play an important role in shaping a child’s sense of safety. However, injury prevention approaches at the preschool level have generally targeted parents in the education process where the child is a passive recipient. Findings from this study suggest that when children are given the right learning opportunities and experiences, they can build safety risk intelligence that equips them with capabilities they need to become competent risk-takers and manage their safety in everyday life and activities. When considered together, the papers demonstrate the important role children play in their safety learning, where the term safety risk intelligence is introduced to capture children’s agency, and through this concept make a significant contribution to the uncharted terrain within the field of child safety.