Safe Kids Week: Analysis of gender bias in a national child safety campaign, 1997–2016

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Abstract

Background and Purpose Child safety campaigns play an important role in disseminating injury prevention information to families. A critical discourse analysis of gender bias in child safety campaign marketing materials can offer important insights into how families are represented and the potential influence that gender bias may have on uptake of injury prevention information.

Methods Our approach was informed by poststructural feminist theory, and we used critical discourse analysis to identify discourses within the poster materials. We examined the national Safe Kids Canada Safe Kids Week campaign poster material spanning twenty years (1997-2016). Specifically, we analyzed the posters’ typeface, colour, images, and language to identify gender bias in relation to discourses surrounding parenting, safety, and societal perceptions of gender.

Results The findings show that there is gender bias present in the Safe Kids Week poster material. The posters represent gender as binary, mothers as primary caregivers, and showcase stereotypically masculine sporting equipment among boys and stereotypically feminine equipment among girls. Interestingly, we found that the colour and typeface of the text both challenge and perpetuate the feminization of safety.

Discussion It is recommended that future child safety campaigns represent changing family dynamics, include representations of children with non-traditionally gendered sporting equipment, and avoid the representation of gender as binary. This analysis contributes to the discussion of the feminization of safety in injury prevention research and challenges the ways in which gender is represented in child safety campaigns.

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