What age group do children fall into

In: Safe Life (ed.): Report on the 2nd conference “Child safety: What works?” in Essen, September 27 and 28, 1996 in Essen, Vienna, 1997, 313 - 326.

1 Introduction

An important prerequisite for the development of safety-oriented and accident-preventive behavior in childhood is the presence of an appropriate Perception of danger. Only if you recognize a danger in good time can you take preventive measures and avoid an accident. In this way children develop an awareness of "Danger" and for "Security" gradually in the course of their psychological development (OCIO, 1973, HELLBRÜGGE, 1973, HEIMSTRA and MARTIN, 1973, GÜNTHER and LIMBOURG, 1974, FABER and WARD, 1977, COPPENS, 1985 and 1986, KÜTING, 1986, LIMBOURG, 1995). For this reason, it is important for accident prevention research to find out from what age and under what conditions children have a "Danger Awareness" can be assumed.

The few research papers available to date on this question (cf. overview in LIMBOURG, 1995) show that an awareness of “safety” and “danger” develops in three stages:

1st stage:Children can tell whether they are currently in danger or safe (acute awareness of danger).
2nd stage:Children can foresee that they might be in danger (anticipatory, forward-looking awareness of dangers).
3rd stage:Children are able to develop and apply preventive (preventive, prophylactic) behaviors (Prevention awareness).
If one also considers the age of the children, the following assignments can be made from the research work available:
- A "Acute awareness of danger" is already present in children aged 5 to 6 (OCIO, 1973, HEIMSTRA and MARTIN, 1973).
- A "Anticipatory awareness of danger" develops up to the age of approx. 8 years (OCIO, 1973, FABER and WARD, 1977, KÜTING, 1986 and COPPENS, 1986).
- The"Understanding of preventive measures" seems to occur even later (COPPENS, 1986).

In the studies available so far, the findings mainly come from the field of road traffic. Only in the work of COPPENS (1986) were other areas of life also used. The author presented the children with 11 pairs of images, each depicting a “dangerous” and a “harmless” situation (eg “sitting vs. standing in a supermarket shopping cart”, “wearing a seat belt in the car vs. not wearing a seat belt” etc.) ). The pairs of images were presented to 120 children aged 3 to 8 years. They were asked about dangers, possible injuries and preventive measures. However, the evaluation was not carried out separately according to different areas of life. Only a single total point value was formed from all the answers. In addition, in this publication by COPPENS not all 11 images are described, but only two examples. The danger areas can therefore only be partially reconstructed.

For this reason, in a research project based on the work of COPPENS (1986), we wanted the Children's risk cognition carry out comparative studies in different areas of life (house, garden, play, sport, road traffic). We wanted to determine whether danger cognition develops earlier in some areas of life than in others - depending on learning processes and experiences in childhood. We also wanted to widen the age range and also include older children, because puberty in particular leads to a significantly increased willingness to take risks (SEIFFGE-KRENKE, 1994).

In addition, we wanted to find out whether the Perception of danger and the Understanding of prevention related to the safety education in the parental home and / or to the previous accident and injury experiences of the child.

2nd method

2.1 sample

A total of 253 kindergarten and school children aged 3 to 15 from the entire Ruhr area were included in the study, approx. 18 to 22 per age group. Of these, 253 were male and 250 female - around 10 per age group. Unfortunately, the kindergartens and schools could not be selected systematically, we used the contacts of our education students to the relevant institutions. Since our students come from all over the Ruhr area, at least a good geographical spread was achieved.

2.2 Investigation tools

Three different instruments were developed for the investigation:

a) A series of 50 images (photos and graphics) with different hazardous situations from different areas of life (house, garden, playground, street, etc.). Examples: boy climbs on a cupboard, boy rides a bicycle freehand, child reaches for a kettle on the unsecured stove, children set fire to something, child tries to insert a pen into a socket, child suddenly rolls off the sidewalk onto the road in front of them Car, children play on railroad tracks, child plays with a lawn mower, children try to chop wood with an ax, child pulls a dog by the tail, child tries to get a ball out of a garden pond, child plays with a washing-up liquid bottle, child pulls one Plastic bag over the head, etc.

The children looked at the pictures together with an experimenter and were asked whether they thought the situation in the picture was dangerous and why (Can you injure yourself? Can something happen? What can happen? Why?). Then they were asked about prevention suggestions (what can be done to prevent anything from happening? So that the child does not hurt?).

b) A questionnaire for the parents with the following content:
- Questions about the child (gender, temperament, injuries and accidents)
- Questions about the family, the living situation and the traffic in the living area
- Questions about safety education and accident prevention at home

c) A questionnaire for children aged 8 to 15 with some questions about the history of accidents and injuries from a child's point of view. The younger children were not yet able to answer the questionnaire.

2.3 Conducting the investigation

The examination was carried out in the respective apartment of the children. The investigators were 32 pedagogy students. While the experimenter looked at the pictures with the children, the mothers were able to fill out the parents' questionnaire. The children's questionnaire was filled out after viewing the pictures (from 8 to 15 year old children). The younger children were verbally questioned by the investigator about injuries and accidents.

3. Results

3.1 Accidents / Injuries

The number of accidents suffered to date has risen steadily with the age of the children. While 31% of the 3 to 6 year old children had already suffered an accident, it was already 75% of the 7 to 10 year old children. Up to the age of 15, a total of 96% of all children had an accident with injuries - that is almost the entire sample examined.

Most of the children involved in an accident had a single accident (68%). Much fewer children had two (25%) or three or more accidents (7%). The number of accidents per child increased with age, i.e. younger children usually only had one accident, older children more often had two or even three accidents.

Contrary to our expectations, there was no difference in the number of children involved in accidents between boys and girls. Only the type of accidents suffered shows clear differences between the sexes. The boys most frequently had accidents while cycling, in traffic (pedestrians and cyclist accidents), falling from heights (stairs, cupboards, loft beds, climbing frames, etc.) and doing sports (soccer, skating, apparatus gymnastics, etc.). Girls are more likely to have accidents in the kitchen (scalds, burns, cuts) and are more likely to be bitten by dogs. Girls' sports accidents are often riding accidents.

The nature of accidents also changes with age. In the first 3 years of life, children fall off the changing table, fall off their parents' bike, fall out of bed and out of the shopping cart in the supermarket. Between the ages of 3 and 6, children have accidents at home (apartment and garden) and in kindergarten. Falls, scalds, cuts and stab wounds, bruises, etc. are most commonly reported in this age group. Sports and traffic accidents are most commonly reported in elementary school age. In addition, there are injuries from other children (quarrels, aggression) at school. Between the ages of 10 and 15, the focus is on bicycle accidents (85% of the boys surveyed have already had at least one bicycle fall) and other sports accidents (football, skating, riding, tennis, gymnastics, ballet, etc.).

When interviewing the parents and the children themselves, it has proven to be important not only to ask about accidents, but also about injuries. Many injuries were not rated as "accidents" by parents and children. These often included broken bones, sprains, bruises and abrasions from falls (walking, running, cycling, etc.), injuries from knives, scissors and other tools, and injuries from other children (with or without "intent"). Dog bites were also not always reported as an "accident". In order to be sure that all types of accidents were discussed, specific inquiries were made about suffocation and poisoning, because not all parents and children consider these types of accidents to be "injuries".

The separate accident survey of parents and children has proven to be useful. On the one hand, the older children no longer remembered some accidents from early childhood and preschool, on the other hand they were able to report accidents that the parents did not know about or about which they did not know the correct course. This was particularly common when the children were engaging in “prohibited” activities or in “prohibited” places. The parents were told a completely different accident story to "explain" the injury.

3.2 Perception of danger

While in the group of 3 to 4 year olds Children only 32% of the dangers were recognized, it was with the 5- to 6-year-olds already 75% and with the 7 to 8 year olds 89%. Both 9 to 10 year olds 92% of all dangers were correctly assessed and in the case of children 11 to 12 year olds it was 97%. In the puberty (13 to 15 years) there was then a “step backwards”, slightly fewer dangers were named (81%).

The 3 to 4 year olds recognized some of the dangers in the household most often ("The stove is hot and you can hurt yourself" (100%), "You can cut yourself with the bread machine" (80%), "You can fall off a chair or shelf" (80%), “You can injure yourself with a mixer” (50%). Only a small part of the children in this age group (13%) also recognized some other dangers (washing machine, socket, chainsaw, ax, shopping cart). The dangers of igniting, the dangers of poisoning (cleaning agents, medicines, plants), the danger of drowning, suffocating or scalding were not recognized. The dangers in road traffic and the sports risks were not identified. The same was also true for animals outgoing dangers, they were only very rarely recognized.

The children aged 5-6 years recognized the danger of falling (100%), the thermal dangers (83%) and the dangers emanating from tools and machines (75%) most frequently. Only the socket has not yet been properly assessed. The dangers of poisoning were recognized much less often (39%). 74% of the children correctly assessed the dangers in road traffic and in sports and games. The danger posed by animals (dog, horse) was mentioned less often (64%).

In the group of 7 to 8 year olds Children were assessed correctly for almost all dangers (89%), only a few activities such as surfing the S-Bahn or throwing snowballs were still difficult to identify. The children in the group of 9 to 12 year old children were best, they recognized almost all dangerous situations and were also able to name many other potential dangers for most of the pictures.

The group of 13 to 15 year olds Children, on the other hand, found situations to be “dangerous” somewhat less than younger children (81%). In this age group, the danger from dogs, from play and gymnastics equipment, from New Year's Eve bangers, tools and kitchen utensils was clearly underestimated (“The dog is definitely not dangerous”, “Play equipment is no danger, otherwise such equipment would not be in public playgrounds ”,“ If you know how to use devices or New Year's Eve bangs, nothing can happen ”). The children of this age group value their own competence very highly, they are of the opinion that hardly anything can happen to them.

When explaining the dangers and describing the consequences of the accident, the explanations given by the 3 to 4 year olds were still very undifferentiated (“You can hurt yourself”, “You get stomach ache”). The 5- to 6-year-olds also provided similar descriptions of the risks and consequences of accidents. From the age of 7 the explanations become much more differentiated ("You can get burned", "You can open your knee", "You can break your neck", "You can get an electric shock", "You can suffocate" ).

3.3 Understanding of prevention

The understanding of prevention develops later than the perception of danger. In the group of 3 to 4 year olds there was a prevention proposal for only 12% of the identified dangers. This suggestion was almost always "restrictive" ("Parents have to lock scissors, chainsaws, lighter etc.", "Children are not allowed in the kitchen", "Do not touch dangerous things", "Lock pots and pans" etc.) .). Some of the suggestions were very “radical” and “unrealistic” (“Stop using pots so the child can't get burned”, “Put the closet out of the living room so the child can't climb the shelves”, “Do away with the washing machine so that the child cannot climb into the device ”). Only one suggestion in this age group offered a solution that would not affect the life of the child or that of the family: When a child was pictured with a chainsaw, a boy made the prevention suggestion “Better to play with children's tools”.

Both 5- to 6-year-olds Children were given prevention suggestions for 53% of the identified dangers, but almost all of them were restrictive (“Parents should be careful”, “Children shouldn't use the scissors”, “Dangerous things have to be locked away”). At this age, however, there were already some technical safety suggestions: "Attach the cabinet to the wall so that it cannot fall over when a child climbs on the shelves", "Attach safety flaps to the sockets", "Wear knee pads when roller skating", " Wear a helmet when cycling ”. In addition to these sensible preventive measures, there were also less promising suggestions: "Only ignite with gloves", "Do not annoy dogs, just stroke them", "Only touch dogs with gloves", "Parents should put something to eat on the table next to the medication, so that the child chooses the food and not the medication, "always put sweets on the table so that the child does not have to climb the shelves" ..

In the group of 7 to 8 year olds Children, the number of prevention suggestions increased further (77%), but the majority is still restrictive and restrictive. There were a small number of technical proposals: stove guard, fence around the pond, socket protection, helmet, protective clothing for skaters. “Nonsensical” suggestions could no longer be found in this age group.

Both 9 to 10 year olds Children were given a preventive suggestion for every identified danger (98%), but the majority of the suggestions remained restrictive even in this group, although the number of "technical" prevention suggestions increased significantly: socket protection, helmet, protective clothing, a fence around a garden pond, etc. suggested by almost all children of this age group. In this age group, the parents provided information for the first time as a new variant (“warn child about strange dogs”, “explain that a horse can step out”, “indicate danger”). From the children's point of view, the educational variant of prevention must also offer coping strategies for dangerous situations.The parents should explain to the children how to handle animals, tools, a lighter or New Year's Eve bangers safely.

The group of 11 to 12 year olds Kinder made prevention suggestions for all dangers. The majority of the suggestions (64%) in this group were "restrictive" (lock away, forbid, do not answer), 22% had an "informative, educational" character (inform, point out dangers, warn) and 14% were "technical ”Type (fences, bars, guards, etc.). In this group, the prevention suggestions were diverse, often several suggestions for a dangerous situation were made and their effectiveness was analyzed.

In the group of 13 to 15 year olds there was another small “step backwards”: the children recognized most of the dangers, but played them down again straight away (“Nothing will happen”, “The boy can handle cracks”, “The dog won't bite” etc.) .). They were able to make good suggestions for prevention, but often questioned their necessity. The focus of prevention in this group was clearly on education. They assumed that most children, including the younger ones, would understand.

There was only one difference between boys and girls: the girls had more prevention suggestions for handling horses than the boys in the age group of 10 to 15 year olds.

As with hazard detection, the first suggestions for prevention (3 to 4 year old children) come from the home (kitchen, living room, garden). They concern the

Areas of "falls", "burns" and cuts. A little later (5- to 6-year-old children) the problem of electricity (sockets) arises. Sports leisure activities such as cycling and “skating” are also gaining importance in the context of prevention. For some recognized dangers, however, there are still no appropriate preventive measures from a child's point of view (dog bites, poisoning). The garden pond is included in the prevention for 7 to 8 year old children for the first time (building a bridle) and scalding problems are also recognized with the kitchen stove and solved by a stove guard. A clear improvement in the understanding of prevention can be observed in the 9 to 10 year olds. In addition to the usual “restrictive” proposals, technical and educational measures are also offered. In the group of 11 to 12 year olds, the understanding of prevention improves even further - there are diverse suggestions for all identified dangers. The understanding of prevention reaches a clear climax here. There is a slight regression among the 13 to 15 year old pubescent children. Some dangers are no longer recognized, others are downplayed, prevention is often not necessary because the children in the pictures are competent and informed, the animals are all "good" and do not bite or kick, etc. At this age, the children know what you could take preventive measures, but they think you don't need them (“Nothing will happen”).

3.4 Differential Aspects

The results of the investigation show very clearly that there are very large differences in the perception of danger and in the understanding of prevention between the individual children at the individual age groups - and especially among children of preschool age. These differences are greatest in the younger groups (3 to 8 years of age); they are somewhat weaker in the older children. For this reason it was important to ask which predictor variables can explain these differences.

The analysis of the questionnaire data revealed the following significant relationships (four-field correlation):
- Children are more likely to recognize dangers that they themselves have experienced in the form of an injury or an accident. Anyone who burned themselves while igniting the ignition can identify the danger posed by matches, and anyone who has been bitten by a dog knows the danger posed by this animal.
- Children are more likely to recognize dangers that their parents have made them aware of (“The oven is hot”, “You can hurt yourself with a knife”, “You can fall off the cupboard”).
- Children in whose apartments there are technical safety devices also include these measures in their prevention proposals (socket protection, cabinet mounting on the wall, stove guard)
- Children who experience many bans in their parents' home also make many “restrictive prevention suggestions” (“Don't touch the scissors”, “Don't let them into the kitchen”, “Don't cycle”).
- Children whose parents “explain” and “explain” the dangers often make “educational prevention suggestions” (“Explain that you can fall off the monkey bars”, “Explain that you have to approach a horse from the front”, “Explain that the stove top can be hot ”).
- The perception of danger and the understanding of prevention depend heavily on the children's environment. If, for example, there is a garden pond, children are more likely to know that one can drown there than if they live in a high-rise building without a garden or pond. Instead, in high-rise buildings they are more likely to fall out of the window or balcony. If road traffic in the residential area is dangerous, children are more likely to recognize this source of danger than children who live in traffic-calmed areas.
- There is no difference between boys and girls in the number of dangers identified. However, there are differences in the type of dangers identified. Since the activities and whereabouts of boys and girls partly differ, their risk cognition is also different (e.g. "horses" for the girls, "climbing" for the boys).
- Hyperactive, restless children are less likely to see danger than calm children. They also make fewer prevention suggestions. It is also generally more difficult to ask them about the pictures, because they have no patience and want to move on to the next picture right away. These hyperactive children also had more accidents than the "calm" children.
- In the case of the 10 to 15 year old children, who were already separated according to school type, it was clearly shown that secondary school students have a worse perception of danger than high school and secondary school students. The students from the grammar school also had a better understanding of prevention than the secondary school students.

4. Discussion

The results of our exploratory study on the perception of danger and the understanding of prevention in 3 to 15 year old children show that no strict age assignment can be made for the occurrence of these abilities. In some areas of life these skills appear earlier than in others. In this way, the specific dangers in the household are recognized earlier than the risks arising from traffic or sports. The development of these skills depends not only on the age of the children, but also on their own experiences (accidents, prohibitions, education and upbringing by parents, temperament) in their home, in the garden, on the playground, etc. Nevertheless, the development is but Not entirely independent of age: Older children are generally better able to recognize dangers than younger ones, they also make more and better prevention suggestions. Older children are better able than younger to recognize dangers that they have not experienced themselves and about which they have not been informed (e.g. surfing the S-Bahn, dangers of a snowball fight). The development of abstract thinking makes this possible (COPPENS, 1986). With the younger children, concrete thinking is still in the foreground, they can only learn through experience and vision. They only recognize a situation as "dangerous" if they have experienced an accident themselves or if a caregiver has told them that they could be injured in this situation. They are not able to use logical thinking to infer a danger from a situation that is still unknown to them. Only older children can do that (from around 9 to 10 years of age).

If one compares our results with the previous research work (OCIO, 1973, HELLBRÜGGE, 1973, HEIMSTRA and MARTIN, 1973, GÜNTHER and LIMBOURG, 1974, FABER and WARD, 1977, COPPENS, 1986, KÜTING, 1986), it becomes clear that a “forward-looking awareness of dangers” can be present much earlier than previously assumed. However, this ability is shown in the younger children mainly in the domestic area, not in traffic. Since the investigations carried out so far have mainly been carried out in road traffic, their result is plausible.

Another important result of our investigation is the knowledge that children can learn safety-oriented behavior through experience and upbringing in the parental home. The development of danger cognition can be influenced by education and clarification and the understanding of prevention can also be promoted. Our results thus confirm the findings of ROSENBAUM et al.,! 981, JONES et al., 1981, POCHE et al., 1981, PETERSON, 1984 and PETERSON and SCHICK, 1993. In these studies, attempts were successfully made to use behavior-oriented training methods to prevent pre-school and schoolchildren to teach. It turned out, however, that the instructions must be concrete and situation-specific, e.g. B. “Do not run on this staircase”, “You are not allowed to climb this tree”, “If the traffic light fails at the intersection, you have to come home again”, “You must not touch this dog”, “When cycling You put on the helmet ”etc. These results make the importance of safety education in the parental home, in kindergarten and in school clear. It should be intensified in these institutions without neglecting the technical security measures - because here too there are great differences between the families (from very many to no security measures at all).

Although hazard cognition is a fundamental prerequisite for accident prevention, it is not sufficient to actually prevent accidents. Dangers can only be recognized - even with existing skills - if the child's attention is focused on the dangerous situation. Distraction is therefore one of the most common causes of accidents with children - also with children who have an excellent perception of danger (see LIMBOURG, 1995). Only from the age of about 8 are children able to concentrate on road traffic, for example, over a longer period of time. However, this ability is not fully developed until around 13 to 14 years of age. Before that, accidents due to "distracting stimuli" can occur again and again. These stimuli can be “external” (friend, animal, ball, etc.) or “internal” (anger, sorrow, sadness, worry, etc.). Even adults can get distracted from time to time - and this can result in an accident.

Another interesting finding concerns the children through puberty (13-15 years). Their cognitive abilities are fully developed and their ability to concentrate is also good. Nevertheless, they very often have accidents, especially as cyclists in traffic and when doing sports. The reason for this is the “youthful egocentrism” (cf. SEIFFGE-KRENKE, 1994). In this phase, young people are very self-reliant. This age-typical self-perception prevents them from realistically assessing dangers. It results from the rapid physical changes that young people are exposed to and that require their full attention. Even if the dangers are assessed realistically, the young people do not relate to themselves, but only to the others (“something like that can't happen to me”). The so-called “personal fable phenomenon” (the uniqueness experienced) in early to middle adolescence is held responsible for the high incidence of accidents in this age group (SEIFFGE-KRENKE, 1989). It is a temporary phenomenon that is associated with “ideas of size” (HAYES, 1982). Thoughts like “I'm a great cyclist” or “I have excellent responsiveness” are the result. This phenomenon also influenced the perception of danger in our investigation. The 13 to 15 year old children downplayed the dangers - according to the motto “Nothing will happen!”. For these reasons, it is difficult to influence young people through awareness-raising campaigns about risks and dangers. They do not relate the dangers to themselves and therefore do not change their risky behaviors.

Our gender-specific results contradict the present accident investigations (HUBACHER, 1994, SCHINTL and GOETHALS, 1992, GRUBER, 1992, KÖHLER, 1989-1996, BAKER et al., 1992), which showed a ratio of approx. 3 boys to 2 girls determined in the injured children. In our sample, boys and girls had the same number of accidents (ratio 1: 1), only the type and severity of the accident were different. Boys are more likely to have serious accidents, so they have to be treated more often by a doctor and their accidents are reported to the police more often. For this reason, the boys could be more represented in studies that collect accidents on clinics and doctors. The girls in our sample also had more frequent so-called "injuries" that were not counted as accidents (e.g. "cut your finger while cooking" or "burn yourself with the iron"). This means that we had more answers to the question “Did your child have an accident” from the boys, but to the question “Has your child ever been injured” from the girls. However, we do not want to overestimate this result, because our investigation is for the time being to be seen as an "exploratory study" which is to be continued with a much larger sample (approx. 100 children per age group). Then it will become clear how reliable these gender-specific results actually are.

The differences between the school types (Hauptschule, Realschule and Gymnasium) confirm the research findings available to date (cf. overview in LIMBOURG, 1994). However, it cannot be clearly determined which factors are decisive. High school children tend to come from “better neighborhoods”, live in areas with less traffic, have a higher level of education and are often more intelligent. Your parents usually have better financial opportunities, which also allow the purchase of safety equipment (protective grids, socket flaps, child seats, helmets, etc.). Based on previous research, it cannot be said what role the individual factors play in this.

The increased accident risk of the “hyperactive” children in our sample agrees with the findings from other research work (GRISSEMANN, 1986, BARKLEY, 1993, BIJUR et al., 1986, VEGA, 1992). The so-called "ZAPPEL-PHILIPP" is particularly at risk in all areas of life due to its properties. These children show a greatly increased activity and impaired psychomotor coordination. They additionally show a disturbance of the attention and the cognitive recording. They are impulsive and have low tolerance for frustration, they are emotionally unstable, and they are prone to aggressive behavior. These children therefore show a clear "accident tendency".

In summary, it can be stated that the perception of danger and the understanding of prevention develop differently depending on the area of ​​life. Some dangers in the household are recognized correctly even in preschool age, while other dangers (such as the risks in road traffic) are only recorded much later. The understanding of prevention does not develop in all areas of life at the same time. House and garden come first, street and sport come later. Up to the age of 9-10, all children are able to foresee dangers and develop ideas about prevention. In younger years the children seem to learn in this area from experience and through upbringing, from about 8 to 10 years their cognitive abilities are so well developed that they can recognize dangerous situations previously unknown to them through logical thinking. You are then also able to offer different preventive measures for a single situation.

For these reasons, it is important to design a very concrete and situation-specific safety education for the children in the family, in kindergarten and in the first two years of primary school. From grade 3 or 4 onwards, you can also conduct an abstract (more theoretical) safety education.

However, since children's behavior depends not only on their risk cognition, but is also controlled by other factors (distraction stimuli, temperament, curiosity, interest), accident prevention must shape the children's environment much more strongly than before be able to move in it as safely as possible.Technical measures - if possible - offer safety and hardly restrict the children's freedom of movement. With window locks, stove guards, socket caps, children's scissors, pavement on the road, child seats for the car, bicycle helmets, etc., serious accidents can be avoided without slowing down the exploration and play behavior of the children. For this reason, technical measures must come first in the context of accident prevention in childhood.


As part of an investigation into the perception of danger and the understanding of prevention in children, a total of 253 kindergarten and school children were asked about various dangerous situations by educational science students. The children were presented with a total of 50 pictures with different dangerous situations (house, garden, games, sports and traffic). You should look at the individual pictures and answer questions about the dangers and prevention options. In addition, the parents and older children (aged 8 and over) were asked about the history of accidents and safety education.

The results of the investigation show that the perception of danger increases with age: 3 to 4 year olds only recognized 32% of the dangers, in the 5 to 6 year olds it was already 75%, in the 7 to 8 year olds it was 89% for 9 to 10 year olds a total of 92% and for 11 to 12 year old children almost all dangers (97%). In the 13- to 15-year-olds there were again fewer recognized dangers (81%). In this age group, the risk is “downplayed” (“Nothing will happen”).

The perception of danger develops differently depending on the area of ​​life: Dangers in the household are recognized very early, the dangers in sport and in traffic are recognized much later.

In the younger age groups (3 to 8 years of age), the perception of danger depends heavily on their own accident and injury experiences and on the safety education at home. Logical thinking also plays an important role in older children.

An understanding of preventive measures develops later than the perception of danger. In the group of 3 to 4 year olds there was only a suggestion for prevention for 12% of the identified dangers. In the 5 to 6 year olds it was already 53% and in the 7 to 8 year olds it was already 77%. For the 9 to 10 year old children there was a preventive suggestion for every identified danger. Here, too, there are differences between the various areas of life. The household comes first, road traffic and sport last.


BAKER, S.P., O'NEILL, B., GINSBURG, M.J. and LI, G. (1992): The Injury Fact Book. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

BARKLEY, R.A., GUEVREMONT, D.C., ANASTOPOULUS, A.D., PAUL, G.J. and SHELTON, T.L. (1993): Driving-related risks and outcomes of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in adolescents and young adults: A three- to five-year follow-up survey. Pediatrics, 92, 212-218.

BIJOUR, P.E., STEWART-BROWN, S: and BUTLER, N. (1986): Child behavior and accident injury in 11 966 preschool childrn. AJDC, 140, 487-492.

COPPENS, N.M. (1985): Cognitive development and locus of control as predictors of preschoolers' understanding of safety and prevention. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 6, 43-55.

COPPENS, N.M. (1986): Cognitive characteristics as predictors of children's undestanding of safety and prevention. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 11, 189-202.

FABER, R. and WARD, S. (1977): Children's understanding of using products safely. Journal of Marketing, October, 39-46.

GRISSEMANN, H. (1986): Hyperactive Children. Huber, Bern.

GRUBER, M. (1992): Keyword: Child Accidents - A Literature Analysis. Literas, Vienna.

GÜNTHER, R. and LIMBOURG, M. (1977): Dimensions of children's traffic. Report of the Federal Highway Research Institute. Series Accident and Safety Research Road Traffic, No. 24, Cologne.

HAYES, R.L. (1982): A review of adolescent identity formation: Implications for education. Adolescence, 17, 153-165.

HEIMSTRA, N.W. and MARTIN, G.L. (1973): The perception of hazard by children. Journal of Safety Research, 5, 338-346.

HELLBRÜGGE, Th. A. Jr. (1970): A case study on the behavior of the child's pulse while driving. Dissertation, University of Munich.

HUBACHER, M. (1994): Accidents between the ages of 0 and 16 years. Bfu-Report 24, Bern.

JONES, R.T., KAZDIN, A: E. and HANEY, J.I. (1981): Social validation and training of emergency skills for potential injury prevention and life saving. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 14, 249-260.

KÖHLER, G. (1993): The Accident in Pre-School Age. Deutscher Lloyd Insurance, Munich.

KÜTING, H. J. (1986): Traffic education in the primary level: social-cognitive requirements and conception. Report by the Federal Highway Research Institute, Bergisch Gladbach.

LIMBOURG, M. (1995): Developmental psychological requirements for the safety-oriented behavior of children. In: Child safety: what works? Safe life, Vienna

LIMBOURG, M. (1996): Developmental Psychological Basics of Influencing the Behavior of Adolescents. In: Young drivers, report by the Federal Highway Research Institute, series “Mensch und Sicherheit”, booklet M 52.

OCIO, B. (1973): La représentation du danger chez l'enfant dans la circulation, Organizme National de Sécurité Routière, Paris.

PETERSON, L. (1984): Teaching home safety and survival skills to latch-key children. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 17, 279-293.

PETERSON, L. (1984): The "Safe at Home" game. Behavior Modification, 8, 474-494.

VEGA, J.L. (1992): Los accidentes de tráfico en la infancia. Ministry of Interior report, Spain, Salamanca.

PETERSON, L. and SCHICK, B. (1993): Empirically derived injury prevention rules. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 23, 451-460.

POCHE, Ch., BROUVER, R. and SWEARINGEN, M. (1981): Teaching self-protection to young children. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 14, 169--176.

SCHINTL, E. and GOETHALS, B. (1992): Child accidents in the household, leisure time and sport - results of an Austria-wide study. Literas, Vienna.

SEIFFGE-KRENKE, I. ((1989): Health-related behavior and coping with illness. Journal for socialization research, 4, 247-263.

SEIFFGE-KRENKE, I. (1994): Health Psychology of Adolescence, Hogrefe, Göttingen.