Older siblings as potential supervisors of younger siblings: sibling supervisors' recognition of injury-risk behaviours and beliefs about supervisee risk taking and potential injury outcomes

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BackgroundPast research has shown that increased injury risk for supervisees during sibling supervision is in part due to the supervision practices of older siblings.MethodsThe current study used a photo sorting task to examine older siblings' recognition of injury-risk behaviours, their perceived likelihood of supervisees engaging in, or being injured while engaging in, these behaviours, and awareness of past risk-taking behaviours of supervisees. Mothers completed the same measures and an interview about sibling supervision in the home.ResultsMothers reported that sibling supervision occurred most frequently in the kitchen, living room, and children's bedrooms, for approximately 39 min/day, and that the more time the children spent together in a room, the more frequently the older sibling supervised the younger one. The most common reasons mothers gave for why sibling supervision was allowed included beliefs that the older child knows about hazards and unsafe behaviours and that the child could provide adequate supervision. Photo sort results revealed that older siblings were able to correctly identify about 98% of risk behaviours, with these scores significantly higher than what mothers expected (79%). However, compared with mothers, older siblings were less aware of risk behaviours that their younger siblings had engaged in previously. In addition, mothers rated supervisees as ‘fairly likely’ both to engage in risk behaviours and to experience an injury if they tried these behaviours, whereas sibling supervisors rated both supervisee risk behaviour and injury outcomes as ‘not likely’ to occur.ConclusionOlder siblings showed good knowledge of hazards but failed to realize that younger children often engage in injury-risk behaviours. Efforts to improve the supervision practices of sibling supervisors need to include changing their perception of supervisees' injury vulnerability and potential injury severity, rather than targeting to increase knowledge of injury-risk behaviours per se.

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