Objective—To study attitudes towards and use of bicycle helmets among schoolchildren; to determine whether these attitudes are associated with the involvement of parents and school in bike safety.
Settings—Nine intermediate level schools and five upper level schools in two Swedish municipalities.
Method—A survey with 1485 participants aimed at pupils aged 12–15 years conducted during late spring 1997. Associations between parent and school involvement and children's attitudes and helmet use were studied using LisRel analyses.
Result—At some point during their school years, a majority of the children stopped wearing bicycle helmets. Of 12–13 year olds, 80% said that they had used helmets when they were younger but at the time of the study, only 3% aged 14–15 years used helmets. Use decreased significantly during school years (p<0.001). The majority stated they quit using helmets because they were ugly, silly, uncomfortable, or inconvenient. There was a strong association between parental involvement, children's attitudes, and helmet use. However, parent involvement decreased as the children grew older.
Conclusion—To increase the voluntary use of bicycle helmets among schoolchildren their attitudes must be influenced. An intervention aimed at both parents and children may be required.
- bicycle helmet use
- parental involvement
- children's attitudes
- safety promotion
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