Background Parents play an important role in keeping children safe from injury. The Risk Engagement and Protection Survey (REPS) was developed and validated in measuring fathers’ attitudes towards protecting children from injury and allowing them to engage in risks. However, the validity of this two-construct instrument remains unestablished among mothers, and its similarity and variation across fathers and mothers.
Objective Based on the two-factor structure of REPS (i.e. injury protection and risk engagement), measurement invariance was examined between fathers and mothers of children aged 6–12 years.
Methods We developed, administered and validated an initial REPS survey with 302 fathers (mean age=43 years) of children ages 6–12 years visiting the Emergency Department of a children’s hospital. This survey revealed two independent constructs, protection from injury and engagement with risk. We then administered the same survey to 234 mothers (mean age=41 years) in the same setting. The factor structure was tested with confirmatory factor analysis, using two-group analyses to model parental gender differences.
Findings The factors of injury protection and risk engagement in the 14-item version of REPS were found to be structurally invariant across fathers and mothers. Specifically, configural invariance showed the two-factor structure derived from fathers was a good representation of the structure for mothers. Metric invariance suggested the two factors have similar psychological meanings across fathers and mothers. Compared with fathers, scalar invariance revealed that mothers tend to experience an equivalent level of protecting their children from injury and engaging them with risk.
Conclusions Fathers and mothers perceive child injury protection and risk engagement similarly at qualitative and quantitative levels. These results add to understanding about mothers’ conceptions of child safety and risk and how they compare to fathers, which has potential to inform parenting program and policy development through interventions addressing child safety and risk.
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