Approaches used by parents to keep their children safe at home: a qualitative study to explore the perspectives of parents with children aged under five years

Joanne Ablewhite (Lead Author), Lisa McDaid, Adrian Hawkins, Isabel Peel, Trudy Goodenough, Toity Deaves, Jane Stewart, Michael Watson, Denise Kendrick

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Childhood unintentional injury represents an important global health problem. Many unintentional injuries experienced by children aged under 5 years occur within the home and are preventable. The aim of this study was to explore the approaches used by parents of children under five in order to help prevent unintentional injuries in the home and the factors which influence their use. Understanding how parents approach risk-management in the home has important implications for injury practitioners.

A multi-centre qualitative study using semi-structured interviews. A thematic approach was used to analyse the data. Sixty five parents of children aged under 5 years, from four study areas were interviewed: Bristol, Newcastle, Norwich and Nottingham.

Three main injury prevention strategies used by parents were: a) Environmental such as removal of hazards, and use of safety equipment; b) parental supervision; and c) teaching, for example, teaching children about safety and use of rules and routine. Strategies were often used in combination due to their individual limitations. Parental assessment of injury risk, use of strategy and perceived effectiveness were fluid processes dependent on a child’s character, developmental age and the prior experiences of both parent and child. Some parents were more proactive in their approach to home safety while others only reacted if their child demonstrated an interest in a particular object or activity perceived as being an injury risk.

Parents’ injury prevention practices encompass a range of strategies that are fluid in line with the child’s age and stage of development; however, parents report that they still find it challenging to decide which strategy to use and when.

Keywords: Child safety; Child injury prevention; Safety strategies; Qualitative
Original languageEnglish
Article number983
JournalBMC Public Health
Publication statusPublished - 29 Sep 2015


  • Child safety
  • Child injury prevention
  • Safety strategies
  • Qualitative

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