School related injuries have regional level variations with regard to risk factors, and identification of these risk factors, as perceived by the community, is important for successful implementation of injury prevention activities. Hence, the main objective of this study was to describe community perceived risk factors associated with school related injuries among children aged 5 to 12 years, in the Colombo district of Sri Lanka.
Focus Group Discussions (with five participants per group; selected using multistage random and purposeful sampling) were conducted separately with 40 non-working mothers, 40 school children and 19 teachers, until a maximum theoretical saturation of the information was reached. Identification of risk factors was through content and thematic analysis and data triangulation.
Risk factors were identified under four main themes. The first theme, human factors, included; children with behavior problems, involvement in student gangs, peer factors at school, less educated parents and disrupted families, and inexperienced and irresponsible teachers. The second theme, injury risk within the school compound, included; poorly designed and badly maintained buildings, school compound and playgrounds, defective sports equipment, stray animals in the premises, unqualified coaches and impractical expectations from school level sports-persons. The third theme, injury risk during travelling to school, included; unsafe over-crowded modes of travel, reckless attitudes of school vehicle drivers, risks of walking to school and children gathering at the school entrance. The last theme, harmful policies in education, included; certain legal constraints on teachers, which were noted as adverse factors in preventing child injuries at school.
Therefore, parents’ and teachers’ awareness on child behavior, providing physically and psychologically safe school environment by education authorities and good teacher-student-parent relationships are important to minimize school related child injuries. These study conclusions will be used to advocate for regional level school injury prevention programmes.