03:38am Tuesday 25 February 2020

Young Aussies think twice about taking risks

Year nine students at 37 south-east and central Queensland schools are learning to prevent injury from alcohol use and actions including riding without a bicycle helmet and being a passenger of a risky driver.

The program, which is being rolled out this year, teaches students about first aid, ways to protect their peers from injury and increases feelings of “school connectedness” over eight weekly health or pastoral care curriculum sessions.

Dr Lisa Buckley, from the Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety – Queensland (CARRS-Q) at QUT, said the ‘Skills for preventing injury in youth’ program sought to change young people’s thinking about risk taking.

“Injury is the leading cause of death for young people in Australia,” she said.

“We hope this intervention program can make a difference and cause students to think about ways to protect their friends from injury.

“We think first aid in particular could be a proactive factor to reduce engagement in risky behaviour.

“School connectedness, which includes feelings of belonging and attachment to school, influences how young people behave outside the classroom.

“Students are safer if they like their school.”

The study, funded through an Australian Research Council Discovery Project grant, will continue for a year, with 17 participating schools completing the intervention curriculum first.

The other schools will be used to compare the effectiveness of the intervention program, which those students will go on to complete after the study.

Schools involved are from Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Logan, Rockhampton and Sunshine Coast.

Dr Buckley said a pilot study involving 800 year nine students at schools in Canberra and Brisbane found the intervention program reduced risky behaviour.

Students were surveyed prior to the program starting, immediately after, six months later and then in focus groups.

Dr Buckley said pilot study students reported they were 20 per cent less likely to cycle without a helmet a year after completing the intervention program.

The pilot study also found:

– 6 per cent of students admitted to passing out or vomiting from drinking alcohol prior to the intervention program.

– 15 per cent of teenagers said they would not drink alcohol after completing the program.

– 7 per cent of students said they were less likely to ride with drink drivers.

– 8 per cent reported they would not drive a car when drinking after completing the program.

Dr Buckley said intervention students had better knowledge of checking for danger and treating burns and spinal injuries than control group students.

Results from the ‘Skills for preventing injury in youth program’ are expected next year.

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Media contact: Stephanie Harrington, QUT media officer, 3138 1150, stephanie.harrington@qut.edu.au

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