Michigan SAFE KIDS Coalition Educates Parents and Kids About Importance Of Role-Modeling Safe Behavior: National SAFE KIDS Week is April 30 to May 7

Contact: T.J. Bucholz (517) 241-2112
Agency: Community Health

May 3, 2005

In celebration of National SAFE KIDS Week, the Michigan SAFE KIDS Coalition will educate families about the need for parents to set good examples for children through safe behavior. New research released by the National SAFE KIDS Campaign and Johnson & Johnson finds that parents are not consistently role-modeling safe behavior for their children.

Findings include that while 98 percent of parents agree it is important to act as safety role models for their children, the percentage of parents who report actually practicing safe behaviors is often lower. In addition, children with parents whose actions reinforce their words appear more likely to practice safe behaviors.

“It is as important to ‘walk the walk’ as it is to ‘talk the talk’ when it comes to keeping children safe,” said Jeff Spitzley, Michigan SAFE KIDS Coalition Coordinator. “Wearing a life jacket, a bike helmet or a seat belt, and crossing streets at crosswalks are easy ways to keep kids safe. Parents can talk about how important it is, but if they aren’t doing it themselves, their kids aren’t likely to either.”

Parents do a good job of both stressing the importance of safety belt use with their children and being good examples by wearing safety belts themselves (86 percent say they always do). This may explain near-universal safety belt use among children - 91 percent of children say they always wear a safety belt.

Research shows that parents are much less successful at being good role models for their children in other key safety areas, such as wearing a bike helmet, wearing a life jacket, and safely crossing busy streets. It is important for parents to understand the risks related to these activities as well. For example:

  • Drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury-related death among children ages 1 to 14.
  • Bicycles are associated with more childhood injuries than any other consumer product except the automobile.
  • Pedestrian injury remains the second leading cause of unintentional injury-related death among children ages 5 to 14.

For more information or for a copy of Follow the Leader: A National Study of Safety Role Modeling Among Parents and Children, visit www.safekids.org. The Michigan Department of Community Health is the lead agency for the Michigan SAFE KIDS Coalition.