The primary objective of this program evaluation was to determine if a school-based education program is an effective means of informing elementary school-aged children enrolled in second through fourth grades about dog bite safety - the awareness of proper behavior when in the company of dogs to prevent bites, injuries, or fatalities. The pilot program, featuring written materials and a video, was developed to teach dog bite safety, and questionnaires were designed to assess the program. Students (n=486) from seven schools from Montgomery and Prince George's Counties in Maryland, USA participated. Pre- and post-program questionnaires assessed students' interactions, encounters, and relationships with dogs, as well as use of program materials, and changes in understanding about dog behavior, body language, and bite avoidance. The program results appeared to be highly effective in helping children understand how to prevent or avoid potentially threatening situations involving dogs. The program was most effective at teaching children that: (1) neighborhood and family dogs are most likely to cause dog bite-related injuries, (2) they should never run away from a dog, and (3) they should never touch a dog that is sleeping or eating. For most groups, there was also an increased level of recognition of canine body language. Almost half of the participants indicated that they had been bitten in the past, and over 80% knew the attacking dog. Finally, the findings suggest that an age-appropriate dog bite safety program delivered in an elementary school setting can be effective in producing awareness about preventing dog bite-related injuries. Future investigations should concentrate on monitoring actual changes in child behavior.
|Author Address||Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland, USA.firstname.lastname@example.org|
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