Investigating home safety amongst young parents

Zahida Begum
(L-R): Sheila Merrill, RoSPA's home safety manager for England; Zahida Begum; Cassius Francis, RoSPA's youth liaison worker.

30 March 2011

‘Teenage parents want better access to home safety information so they can take even greater steps towards keeping their children safe’, show the findings of new research by Zahida Begum, a Psychology student at Aston University. 

Zahida is working with the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) on how safety messages could be better tailored for young parents. She joined RoSPA as a ‘young advocate’ through the Future Leaders programme, run by the Changemakers Foundation, and drawing on her experiences as the youngest in a large family, plus time spent with her siblings’ children, she was keen to find ways to raise young parents’ awareness of child safety issues within the home.

Zahida organised four focus groups and workshops with 26 young people who are or were teenage parents and based on her findings, she recommended:

  • Increasing media coverage of home safety messages via channels that will reach young people, such as social networking

  • Implementing home and child safety sessions for 14-16-year-olds in schools

  • Encouraging young parents to design useful gadgets containing safety messages, such as fridge magnets

  • Including information about safety equipment in the Bounty pack that pregnant women receive

  • Introducing an automated text message service providing information and advice

  • Training young parents to spread safety messages to their peers.

Zahida said: “I feel the project was very important in relation to the community and our society especially during these difficult economic times. Many home safety projects have had funds cut. I strongly disagree with this because I feel that one of the most effective ways to save public money would be to invest in accident prevention rather than to deal with the expenses that are incurred after accidents, as these costs are not only tangible but cause thousands of people long term psychological and emotional distress. I also feel that the needs of young parents are at risk of being misunderstood. Having a good understanding of what they want and need will help in the designing of appropriate safety messages to reach them. I felt that this project gave them a chance to voice their concerns and it will hopefully go some way towards improving things in the future.”

Tom Mullarkey, RoSPA's  Chief Executive, said: “This was a great piece of original work, thoughtfully scoped and expertly delivered. It has added to our knowledge and provided real insight into one of the most hard-to-reach issues we tackle at RoSPA, the real-life impact of our efforts. Zahida is to be congratulated on her excellent rigour and professional delivery.”

Sheila Merrill, RoSPA’s Home Safety Manager for England, who commissioned the research, said: “Zahida was friendly and enthusiastic. She carried out a very challenging piece of work with professionalism providing RoSPA with an excellent piece of research.”