Comparison of Two Programs to Teach Firearm Injury Prevention Skills to 6- and 7-Year-Old Children

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Comparison of Two Programs to Teach Firearm Injury Prevention Skills to 6- and 7-Year-Old Children

Category: Behavior, Firearm Policies, Youth|Journal: Pediatrics (full text)|Author: B Gatheridge, B Johnson, C Flessner, D Hueneke, M Satterlund, R Miltenberger|Year: 2004


Each year, hundreds of children unintentionally kill or injure other children while playing with firearms in the United States. Although the numbers of these deaths and injuries are distressing, few prevention programs have been developed to prevent gun play among children.


This study compared the efficacy of 2 programs designed to prevent gun play among young children.


A posttest-only, control group design with 2 treatment groups was used. Children were randomly assigned to 1 of 2 treatment groups or a control group. For all children who did not exhibit the skills after training, 1 in situ (ie, real-life situation) training session was conducted.


Participant recruitment, training sessions, and assessments were all conducted in the children’s after-school program facility.


Forty-five children, 6 or 7 years of age, were recruited for participation.


The efficacy of the Eddie Eagle GunSafe Program, developed by the National Rifle Association, and a behavioral skills training program that emphasized the use of instruction, modeling, rehearsal, and feedback was evaluated.

Main Outcome Measures

The criterion firearm safety behaviors included both motor and verbal responses, which were assessed in a naturalistic setting and then assigned a numerical value based on a scale of 0 to 3.


Both programs were effective for teaching children to verbalize the safety skills message (don’t touch the gun, get away, and tell an adult). However, children who received behavioral skills training were significantly more likely to demonstrate the desired safety skills in role-playing assessments and in situ assessments than were children who received Eddie Eagle program training. In addition, in situ training was found to be effective for teaching the desired safety skills for both groups of children.


Injury prevention programs using education-based learning materials are less effective for teaching children the desired safety skills, compared with programs incorporating active learning approaches (eg, modeling, rehearsal, and feedback). The efficacy of both types of injury prevention programs for teaching the desired skills could be significantly enhanced with the use of in situ training. This program, when implemented with 6- and 7-year-old children, was effective in teaching the desired safety skills.

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