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Working teens and parents need to talk about work risks

November 7, 2011
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talking with your teenIn the US, 70-80% of teens work. As the fourth leading cause of death in youth ages 10-19, work-related injuries are an important preventable cause of death and disability in teens.

A study by University of Louisville researchers investigated the influence of parental communication on the risk of work-related injury in teens. Results were presented at last week’s 139th Annual American Publish Health Meeting in Washington, DC.

Methods: Data was obtained from teenagers in public high schools in Jefferson County, Kentucky, using qualitative and quantitative methods. Focus groups and interviews were conducted with 42 teens in April-May of 2010.

In January-February of 2011 a survey of all teens in the schools was conducted.

Results: Preliminary results from qualitative data with 42 teens suggest that teens commonly discuss their work with their parents. These data have shown mixed results regarding the influence and effect of parental communication and contact in preventing work-related injuries. Analysis of recently collected quantitative data from over 3,000 teens will help to further elucidate whether communication and contact between parents and teens help to prevent injuries.

Discussion: The relationship between level of parental communication and work-related injury in teenagers has yet to be defined. The extent to which a child and parent communicate about work, especially in regards to dangerous tasks, injuries at work, and child labor laws could have a great influence on the attitude of the working child towards safety at work. Maximizing communication between working teens and their parents may have positive influence on the safety behaviors of teens both at work and outside of work.

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