A study conducted in 52 schools all over Estonia as part of Estonian Research Council's public health program TerVE revealed that Estonian children take more risks than their peers in many other European countries.
In 2013, 39 children died in Estonia as a result of intoxication or trauma. The most likely victims are babies and teenagers.
These facts prompted researchers to question nearly 1,000 6th graders (12-13 year-olds) to learn about their eating habits, physical activities, water, fire and road safety conduct, relations with alcohol, tobacco and recreational drugs and sexual behavior. The study aimed to determine the factors that shape the risk and health behavior of Estonian youth. This will allow to develop more effective tools to influence children's attitude towards health and safety.
According to the results, Estonian youth is one of the least risk-averse in Europe.
It appeared that 15 percent of the children never put on their seat-belt in a car or bus, only 27 percent wear a helmet when riding a bike, and about a third of the respondents wears a reflector in the dark. Moreover, the children often fail to grasp swimming-related risks and more than third of the 6th graders have smoked, although this number is fortunately declining.
The researchers also concluded that risk and health behavior is directly related to pupil's opinions on how well they are getting on in their studies, self-esteem, the perceived seriousness of the risk area, relations with parents and how much the parents show interest in their child's everyday activities, behavior of friends, and the school climate - relations with peers and teachers - and how much the child enjoys going to school.
The study shows that the better school climate and relations with parents translate into lower risks.
The study was conducted by the University of Tartu, Tallinn University and the National Institute for Health Development.
Editor: M. Oll