Academic journal article Education & Treatment of Children

Teaching Skills to Second and Third Grade Children to Prevent Gun Play: A Comparison of Procedures

Academic journal article Education & Treatment of Children

Teaching Skills to Second and Third Grade Children to Prevent Gun Play: A Comparison of Procedures

Article excerpt

Abstract

A posttest only control group design was used to investigate the effects of two programs to teach firearm injury prevention skills to second and third grade children. Children were taught the safety skills "Stop. Don't touch. Leave the area. Tell an adult." should they ever find a firearm. The effectiveness of the National Rifle Association's Eddie Eagle GunSafe Program (Level Two) was compared to a Behavioral Skills Training (BST) procedure in reducing gunplay behaviors. Participants were trained according to either the Eddie Eagle program or the BST procedure in one session lasting forty-five minutes to an hour. Self-report, role-play, and in-situ assessments were used to determine the effects of each treatment. Those children not demonstrating the target skills at assessment received an additional in-situ training session and a second assessment. Findings showed that (a) both programs were successful in teaching children to verbally state the target behaviors as compared to the control group; (b) the Behavioral Skills Training program and the Eddie Eagle program were equally effective in teaching children to role-play the skills, and the Behavioral Skills Training group was superior to the control group; (c) there were no differences among any of the conditions in regards to measures of in-situ assessment; and (d) children in each group varied on the amount of in-situ training sessions needed before displaying the target behavior.

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Firearm-related injury and death in children is a public health problem (Dresang, 2001; Zwerling et al., 1993). In the United States from 1979-1994, 11,918 children under the age of 15 were killed by firearms (Cummings, Grossman, Rivara, & Koepsell, 1997). Of these fatalities, 4,173 were unintentional (Cummings et al., 1997). It has been estimated that for every person under the age of 25 who is fatally wounded by a firearm, at least 4 more people are injured by firearms (American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Injury and Poison Prevention, 2000). During 1995, firearm-related injuries were the sixth leading cause of death for children between 5 and 9 years of age, and the eighth leading cause of death for children between 1 and 4 years of age (Stennies, Ikeda, Leadbetter, Houston, & Sacks, 1999). Most recently, it has been reported that from 1993-2000, 143 children were accidentally killed and 1,222 accidentally injured each year by firearms (Eber, Annest, Mercy, & Ryan, 2004).

Surveys conducted in the United States show that gun ownership ranges from 20% to 37% of all homes (Haught, Grossman, & Connell, 1995; Senturia, Christoffel, & Donovan, 1994; Stennies et al., 1999). From 10% to 18% of gun owners also report keeping their firearms unlocked and loaded (Coyne-Beasley, Schoenbach, & Johnson, 2001; Farah & Simon, 1999; Haught et al., 1995). Although gun owners with children are more likely to store their firearms locked and unloaded (Coyne-Beasley et al., 2001), there are still many parents who store firearms unsafely in their home (Farah & Simon, 1999; Knight-Bohnhoff & Harris, 1998; Stennies et al., 1999). In a sample of 80 parents in the southwest United States, almost half kept at least one firearm in the home, 20% of parents kept these firearms loaded at all times, and 18% of parents who owned a firearm stored it in reach of a child (Knight-Bohnhoff & Harris, 1998). Similar results were found in other studies assessing parental gun storage practices (Farah & Simon, 1999; Senturia et al., 1994). In one sample of 400 parents, 28% reported owning a firearm, 52% of gun owners indicated that they stored the gun either loaded or unlocked, and 13% reported storing the gun both loaded and unlocked (Farah & Simon, 1999). It has been estimated that approximately 6.8 million homes in the United States currently have a firearm that is stored unlocked and loaded and 1.6 million of these homes contain children (Stennies et al. …

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