You probably teach your child to resist peer pressure by saying no to drugs, alcohol, tobacco, and risky sex. And according to a study from researchers at the University of Toronto in Ontario, Canada, adult influence also can encourage kids to wear helmets to help prevent bicycle-related injuries.
Over a 9-year period, researchers collected data on 2,094 5- to 14-year-old children who rode bicycles in parks and schoolyards and on residential streets. They recorded whether the children used helmets; whether they were riding alone, with an adult, or with another child; and whether their companions wore helmets.
Half of the children they observed rode their bicycles alone, but 36% rode with at least one other child and 14% rode with at least one other adult. In general, a child's companions tended to influence whether a child wore a helmet. Kids who rode with nonhelmeted kids were 71% less likely to wear a helmet, compared with children who rode bikes alone. However, children who rode with adults or other kids wearing helmets were more than twice as likely to wear a helmet as children who rode by themselves.
Here are some other statistics on helmet use in kids:
- 95% wore a helmet when riding with an adult who wore a helmet.
- 77% wore a helmet when riding with another child who wore a helmet.
- 41% wore a helmet when riding with an adult who didn't wear a helmet.
- 35% wore a helmet when riding by themselves.
- 10% wore a helmet when riding with other children who weren't wearing a helmet.
What This Means to You
According to the results of this study, adult and peer helmet use when bike riding is positively associated with helmet use in kids. To protect your child from bicycle-related head injuries, every time your child rides a bike - whether with you or with friends - he or she should be wearing a bike helmet that's been approved by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) or Snell, a nonprofit safety organization. And wearing a helmet yourself is a great way to encourage your child to wear one, too.
Source: Amina Khambalia, MSc; Colin MacArthur, MBChB, PhD; Patricia C. Parkin, MD; Pediatrics, October 2005.
Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: November 2005