Safety risk intelligence: Children’s concept formation of safety and their individual capabilities to appraise risk of injury

Susie O’Neill
KIDS Foundation

Childhood injuries are a growing global public health concern and the main cause of death among children, worldwide. There are proven ways to reduce the likelihood and severity for each area of child injury. Notwithstanding this, children continue to suffer serious injury and death at significant rates in Australia and elsewhere. Strategies have tended to concentrate on identifying a risk factor and seeking ways to address the risk, independent of considering approaches that provide children with a sense of ownership of the safety issues.

There appears to be an absence of scholarly research examining a ‘collective risk intelligence’ as a targeted form of safety-related capacity building. It is this latter safety risk conceptualisation, viewed holistically rather than by issue, that is the focus of this paper. In this paper, it is argued that, when children are given the right opportunities, they can develop safety risk intelligence that equips them with understanding to manage their safety in everyday life. Findings from the SeeMore Safety case study provide the foundation for arguing the concept of safety risk intelligence. How children transform their behaviours in relation to potential hazards in their environment and build a safety risk understanding is captured in the term ‘safety risk intelligence’.

Australasian Journal of Early Childhood—Volume 41 Number 2 June 2016

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