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What children’s perspectives on safe and dangerous outdoor play can tell us about their risk-seeking and injury experiences: ‘You don’t feel right doing the thing that got you hurt’
  1. Michelle Emma Eileen Bauer1,2,
  2. Ian Pike1,2
  1. 1 Pediatrics, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  2. 2 BC Injury Research and Prevention Unit, BC Children's Hospital, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Dr Michelle Emma Eileen Bauer, Pediatrics, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada; Michelle.Bauer{at}


Background Unintentional injuries are a leading cause of children’s hospitalisations and death globally and are thus a pressing public health concern. Fortunately, they are largely preventable, and understanding children’s perspectives on safe and dangerous outdoor play can help educators and researchers identify ways to mitigate the likelihood of their occurrence. Problematically, children’s perspectives are rarely included in injury prevention scholarship. In this study, we acknowledge children’s right to have their voices heard by exploring the perspectives on safe and dangerous play and injury of 13 children in Metro Vancouver, Canada.

Methods We employed tenets of risk and sociocultural theory and a child-centred community-based participatory research approach to injury prevention. We conducted unstructured interviews with children aged 9–13 years old.

Results Through our thematic analysis, we identified two themes: (1) ‘little’ and ‘big’ injuries and (2) risk and danger.

Conclusion Our results suggest children differentiate between ‘little’ and ‘big’ injuries by reflecting on the potential loss of opportunities for play with friends. Further, they suggest children avoid play they perceive as dangerous, but enjoy ‘risk-seeking’ because it is thrilling and provides them with opportunities to push their physical and mental capabilities. Child educators and injury prevention researchers can use our findings to inform their communications with children and make play spaces more accessible to, fun and safe for children.

  • Child
  • Qualitative research
  • Playground
  • Pain

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  • Twitter @m_baue, @IanPike4

  • Contributors MEEB and IP contributed equally to the design and implementation of the study and analysed the results. The first author took a primary role in writing manuscript content and collecting data. MEEB is guarantor for this study.

  • Funding This work is supported through the first author's post-doctoral fellowship award from the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada under award #756-2021-0278.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient and public involvement Patients and/or the public were involved in the design, or conduct, or reporting, or dissemination plans of this research. Refer to the Methods section for further details.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.