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Rural Health Information Hub

Implementation Considerations for Preventing Injuries among Children and Adolescents

Injury is the leading cause of death among children and adolescents in the United States. Types of unintentional injuries differ by age group, sex, and race and ethnicity. For example, the leading cause of unintentional injury death among infants under one year of age is suffocation, among children 1-4 years old is drowning, and among children 5-19 years old is motor vehicle crashes. Rural communities can tailor injury prevention programs and activities to address specific risks by age, setting, and demographic characteristics. For additional considerations for this group, see Considerations for Populations: Children and Adolescents in the Rural Transportation Toolkit.

Designing Injury Prevention Programs that Focus on Children

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention's National Action Plan (NAP) for Child Injury Prevention provides goals and actions for preventing unintentional injuries among children through six key domains. These domains, and approaches rural communities could implement, include:

  • Data and surveillance, such as customizing data reports for specific rural audiences or sharing data with other rural agencies
  • Research, such as identifying the most effective and cost-saving interventions, to determine what works for preventing injury among children in rural communities
  • Communication, such as creating local mass-media campaigns, developing toolkits, and implementing coordinated message strategies across child injury topics in rural communities
  • Education and training, such as educating rural partners and decision-makers about the toll of unintentional injury and training public health professionals and healthcare providers on approaches for unintentional injury prevention
  • Health systems and healthcare, such as implementing child injury risk assessments in home visits and creating injury prevention measures for quality improvement initiatives
  • Policy, such as supporting the implementation of child injury prevention policies and encouraging enforcement of existing policies in rural communities

The Children's Safety Network's Framework for Quality Improvement and Innovation in Child Safety: A Guide to Implementing Injury and Violence Prevention Strategies and Programs provides recommendations for structuring injury prevention programs focused on children. The framework discusses three core components that contribute to workforce development, improved injury prevention systems, and ultimately, better health outcomes among children. These are:

  • Child safety expertise, which involves building knowledge among injury prevention staff through training and education
  • Leadership and management, which involves developing leadership capacity and commitment to supporting child safety initiatives, in addition to engaging partners
  • Systems improvement, which involves identifying gaps in injury prevention and implementing quality improvement initiatives

Other frameworks and guidelines focus on topic-specific child injury prevention strategies, such as agricultural safety for children on farms and ranches.

Working with Partners

Rural communities implementing an unintentional injury prevention program for children should consider engaging partners across the community that will support a successful program. Examples of potential partners include:

  • Parents, guardians, and other family members
  • Early education centers, daycare centers, and schools
  • Law enforcement, fire departments, and other first responders
  • Healthcare providers, such as pediatricians or other staff including from children's hospitals
  • Policymakers
  • Youth-serving institutions and programs, such as 4-H and Future Farmers of America
  • Extension programs
  • Recreational facilities and youth sports programs
  • State and local government agencies, including local health departments and farm bureaus
  • Other trusted messengers in the community

Resources to Learn More

Health Disparities in Rural Childhood Injury
An overview of the increased risk of injury for children in rural areas with a comparison to urban areas. Identifies health disparities impacting injury risk and outcomes, and strategies that may address childhood injury in rural communities.
Author(s): Ficker, E.
Organization(s): Children's Safety Network
Date: 2/2021

Injury Prevention Day: A Spotlight on Rural Child Injuries
Discusses the state of injury rates among children in rural areas. Provides links to safety and prevention information, and relevant organizations.
Organization(s): University of Iowa Injury Prevention Research Center
Date: 11/2021

Injury Prevention Inventory: Rural & Agricultural Injury
An annotated list of resources focused on injury prevention strategies among children involved in agriculture.
Organization(s): The Safe States Alliance

OK Child Injury Prevention Program
Provides lesson plans on injury prevention and safety that teachers and other educators can implement with children from kindergarten to second grade. Topics cover safety related to motor vehicles, fires, choking, poison, falls, firearms, bikes and pedestrians, water, and severe weather.
Organization(s): City of Oklahoma City

Safe Kids Worldwide: Safety Tips
Offers resources appropriate for rural communities to use when educating community members about child safety. Safety tips can be filtered by age, risks, location, and type of resource.
Organization(s): Safe Kids Worldwide