This study examined correlates of hazards education involvement for youth.
Participants were 407 youth between the ages of 7 and 18 who filled out several indices reflecting hazards awareness, risk perceptions, psychological factors, knowledge, and adoption of hazards adjustments and family emergency plans. Additionally, interactive factors were assessed, the extent to which education programs encouraged youth to discuss their learning with parents and whether such discussions occurred.
Overall, findings replicated and extended previous research. First, younger children were generally seen to be more prepared; girls, more knowledgeable. Second, youth involved in education programs had significantly higher levels of correct knowledge of readiness and response behaviors, lower levels of incorrect knowledge, and reported more home-based hazards adjustments. One important area where no differences were seen was in the area of family emergency planning. Predictors of increased educational benefits included program recency, encouragement to interact with parents and, to a slightly lesser extent, parent discussion willingness. Combined with previous research indicating that even simple and brief reading and discussion programs can produce tangible benefits, findings here encourage the incorporation of easy-to-do features that can increase benefits for youth and their families.
The main aim here was to assess, with a separate sample, at a different time, in an area prone to a different set of hazards, whether
- hazards education involvement is beneficial,
- in which areas it is most beneficial, and
- predictors of benefits.
Specifically, it was expected that when compared to children who had not participated in a hazards education program, children who participated in a hazards education program would:
1. Report an increased awareness of the most common local hazards;
2. Report an increased level of knowledge surrounding correct response-related protective behavior and a decreased level of knowledge surrounding incorrect response-related protective behavior;
3. Be more likely to engage in readiness behaviors (e.g., emergency plans and practice) and hazard adjustments;
4. Report more accurate risk perceptions;
5. Report a lower level of fear, a decreased perception of parental fear; and
6. An increased ability to cope with a hazard should it occur in the future. In addition to these hypotheses, this study also aimed to further explore a number of issues. Specifically, researchers aimed to examine:
- Active ingredients (i.e., predictors of benefits) in hazards education programs;
- The relationship between child emotion- and problem-focused factors; and
- The factor structure of the commonly reported hazard adjustments as assessed in the current and previous studies.
Taken together, the findings of the current study support the value of hazards education programs for youth, replicating as well as extending features of previous research. Youth involved in programs reported a greater number of home-based hazard adjustments, had more correct knowledge of emergency management-related readiness and response behaviors, and lower levels of incorrect knowledge. This latter aspect is important as one of authors early studies found indications that educated youth in that study endorsed a greater number of incorrect responses on some items.
As in previous research, researchers found some additional benefits of hazards education program involvement, in terms of both emotional factors as well as risk perceptions. However, findings here were not as consistent as they were with the knowledge and adjustment indicators. Nevertheless, that educated children reported seeing their parents as less fearful and that they also reported more realistic risk perceptions in some domains compared to their non-educated counterparts is encouraging.
The current study found that when it came to hazard adjustments those that were easier (e.g., owning a torch) were more likely to be endorsed than those that were more difficult.
In terms of the ingredients that might be incorporated into education programs, the factors here that were found to predict an increased number of home hazard adjustments were (a) program recency, (b) encouragement by the program to talk with parents, (c) participation in a greater number of programs, and (d) an increased perception of an injury occurring due to a hazard.
In the prediction of the adoption of hazard adjustments there were some unexpected findings. For example, teacher-taught programs were found to predict a decreased number of hazard adjustments and incorrect knowledge was found to predict an increased number of hazard adjustments.