A major problem of child health today is the prevention of accidents. Part of the answer to this problem lies in the answer to the question of why some children have more than their share of accidents. Although there is an extensive literature on the accident-susceptible or accident-prone adult, there has been but little written on this aspect of the accident-prone child. Much remains to be done in order to identify the respects in which children who have repeated accidents differ from their fellows. In spite of the lack of reported studies of children there has been a tendency to talk about the accident-prone child and to attribute to him the personality characteristics and motivations seen in the adult accident repeater. It was with a desire to do something about it, and not merely to talk about it, that the study, of which this paper is a preliminary report, was begun at the Babies Hospital of the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center, New York, in the fall of 1951.
The purpose of this investigation was to explore methods for identifying and determining the significance, in relation to the incidence of accidents in children, of parental attitudes, parent-child relationships, environmental accident hazards, personality characteristics and functioning of the child, physical coordination and physical disabilities as these are reflected in the experience of the accident repeater. It was planned to do this through the study of a relatively small number of children of school age and their environment, both personal and physical, comparing a group who have had repeated accidents with a group who have no accident history. Even though the number of children studied would be small some questions might be answered. In addition, leads for further investigations with a larger number of children might emerge. In any event, it would be discovered whether the proposed approach in the study would bring out meaningful information.
The plan was to select for investigation 10 or 12 children of average intelligence who had been brought to the Emergency Clinic of the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center for treatment of accidental injuries at least 3 times during the 18 month period prior to the outset of the study. Children whose only accidents had been traffic or who had had severe or repeated head injuries were to be included.
- Received November 25, 1952.
- Copyright © 1953 by the American Academy of Pediatrics