1.2 Child Supervision
Overall Effectiveness Concerns: This countermeasure has not been systematically examined. There are insufficient evaluation data available to conclude that the countermeasure is effective.
This countermeasure increases caregiver supervision of children when they are exposed to traffic, or when they are nearby with direct access to traffic. Caregiver involvement is an effective means for shaping children’s behaviors (Percer, 2009). Because children do not have the impulse control to make safe walking decisions, these programs can be an asset to anyone responsible for the supervision of children. The State can require such training for teachers, day care workers, and others licensed to care for children. The programs can also be made available to parents, babysitters, or other caretakers through PTAs, faith-based organizations or places of worship, medical providers, or even direct mail or internet access.
NHTSA also supports a website to reach parents, Parents Central, a gateway to keep children safe on the road (www.safercar.gov/parents/walking.htm). Parent Central includes material created through a partnership to provide preschool-aged children and their parents with pedestrian safety messages. Worth noting is NHTSA’s resource, Teaching Children to Walk Safely as They Grow and Develop: A Guide for Parents and Caregivers, with learning objectives and tips for caregivers of children 4 to 6; 7 to 9; and 10, see www.saferoutesinfo.org/sites/default/files/TeachingChildrentoWalkSafely.pdf.
Another NHTSA website publication is Walking Through the Years, Preventing Pedestrian Crashes: Preschool/Elementary School Children. NHTSA also has several brochures to educate parents and caregivers on child pedestrian safety (www.nhtsa.gov/road-safety/pedestrian-safety) as does Safe Kids Worldwide, including safety tips for parents of young children and links to additional resources (www.safekids.org/safetytips/field_age/little-kids-1%E2%80%934-years/field_risks/pedestrian-safety).
One of the ways to market these programs may be to demonstrate to parents the amount of supervision their child/children needs (and effective training). For example, Rivara et al. (1989) and Dunne et al. (1992) have shown that parents consistently overestimate the ability of children younger than 9 or 10 to negotiate in traffic. Adults should actively supervise children and not assume that their presence will be adequate to ensure safer behavior.
Use: The availability and use of programs to improve child supervision is unknown. Pedestrian safety in general may be a topic at preschools, but programs are likely to be unique, without consensus objectives, material, or curriculum. Many other outlets such as community centers, churches, and local injury prevention offices may be used to reach caregivers and parents of pre-school age children, but the extent of such outreach, and the penetration of traffic safety messages for caregivers is unknown.
Effectiveness: Programs or material can provide helpful training for caregivers if they point out specific risks as well as guidelines for the kind and degree of oversight that are necessary, but the caregivers need to put the training into practice. Widespread exposure of parents and caregivers to this material and resources should be an objective of such programs with the goal to improve safety and reduce injuries.
Costs: Material for people is already available and quite inexpensive. Training for licensed caregivers would be inexpensive to develop and distribute.
Time to implement: Short, for existing material; medium, to develop and disseminate a training curriculum with material.
- Differences in cultural, social, and perceived norms for pedestrian safety should be considered in the development of programs to improve child supervision. For example, in a study by Pfeffer et al. (2010), 59% of adults held the hands of female children compared with 36% who held the hands of male children when crossing the road. In another study, children 9 and younger in one cultural group believed that more of their peers crossed roadways alone than actually did (Rosenbloom et al., 2009). Addressing discrepancies in perceived norms and actual norms may help to shift the actual norm toward safer trends.