This research examined fathers’ attitudes and practices towards preventing injury and keeping children safe. We interviewed 64 families with children aged 2-7 years from urban and rural settings across BC and Quebec to find out:

– How social ideas about masculinity influence fathering
– How fathers and mothers make decisions together about child risk and safety
– How living in different urban and rural settings influences their parenting decisions

We found that the changing role of fathers provides an important opportunity for engaging them in supporting their children’s risk taking and injury prevention. Most couples perceived that men were more comfortable with risk than women, with most fathers placing a high value on providing children with risk taking opportunities. We developed a model outlining 4 decision-making characteristics for striking a balance between risk and protection. Fathers in different geographic settings differed in the purpose they ascribed to children’s play, ranging from play as a means of emotional engagement, to develop capacity for outdoor activities and to teach children survival skills, for fathers in large urban settings, small urban settings, and rural settings, respectively.

Publications & Resources

Creighton, G., Brussoni, M., Oliffe, J., & Olsen, L. L. (2015). “It’s good for the kids”: Fathers consider risk and protection in their own and their children’s lives. Journal of Family Issues.

Creighton, G., Brussoni, M., Oliffe, J., & Han, C. (2015). Picturing masculinities: Using photo-elicitation in men’s health research. American Journal of Men’s Health.

Olsen, L. L., Oliffe, J. L., Brussoni, M., & Creighton, G. (2015). Fathers’ views on their financial situations, father-child activities, and preventing child injuries. American Journal of Men’s Health, 9(1), 15-25.

Creighton, G., Brussoni, M., Oliffe, J. L., & Olsen, L. L. (2015). Fathers on child’s play: Urban and rural Canadian perspectives. Men and Masculinities, 18(5), 559-580.

Brussoni, M., Olsen, L. L., Creighton, G., & Oliffe, J. L. (2013). Heterosexual gender relations in and around childhood risk and safety. Qualitative Health Research, 23(10), 1388-1398.

Brussoni, M., Creighton, G., Olsen, L. L., & Oliffe, J. L. (2013). Men on fathering in the context of children’s unintentional injury prevention. American Journal of Men’s Health, 7, 75-84.

Brussoni, M., & Olsen, L. L. (2013). The perils of overprotective parenting: Fathers’ perspectives explored. Child: Care, Health and Development, 39, 237-245.

Olsen, L. L., Kruse, S., & Brussoni, M. (2013). Unheard voices: A qualitative exploration on fathers’ access of child safety information. Journal of Community Health, 38, 187-194.

Brussoni, M., & Olsen, L. (2011). Striking a balance between risk and protection: Fathers’ attitudes and practices towards child injury prevention. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics, 32(7), 491-498.

Funded By


The Play Worth Remembering project asked adults to share memories about their favourite play spaces when they were kids. Today, research on children’s outdoor play environments has found that safety is the key driver of play space design and the presence of natural elements has decreased. Our aim was to engage the public in dialogue about what children’s play was like when they were growing up to help reflect on how it has changed for children today.

Our research used an online survey to better understand the types of landscapes that people considered memorable for play. Participants were asked to recall their favourite play spaces, the elements contained in these spaces, the benefits received by playing in these spaces, and whether they believed they were safe at these play spaces. We found that 69 percent of participants believed today’s playgrounds are too safe and only 14 percent recalled that spaces designed specifically for play were their favourite play spaces as children.

This research suggests that there is public support for rethinking the design of children’s outdoor play spaces to be more challenging, contain natural elements, and provide access to unstructured play areas.

Publications & Resources

Brunelle, S., Herrington, S., Coghlan, R., & Brussoni, M. (2016). Play worth remembering: Are playgrounds too safe? Children, Youth and Environments, 26(1).

CBC News – Playgrounds need to be more challenging [link]

UBC Peter Wall – Are playgrounds engineered for safety doing more harm than good? [link]

Funded By


This study examined how injuries affect children and their families. Injuries are the leading cause of death and a major cause of disabilities for Canadian children and youth. Despite the major burden that injuries represent, we know relatively little about the long term quality of life outcomes after injury. We followed parents and children between the ages of 0 and 16 years who had attended the BC Children’s Hospital for an injury over the span of a year. We were interested in learning:

1) How injuries impact a child’s health

2) What might influence how a child recovers from injury

3) How families deal with having an injured child

4) What changes there are in a child’s quality of life in the year after the injury

A total of 378 families were enrolled in the study. The majority of children in our sample were engaged in leisure or physical activity at the time of their injury. A small minority of children had residual effects of their injury on year later and ongoing rehabilitation support should be considered in reducing recuperation time. The vast majority of injured children recuperated quickly, regardless of severity of injury.

Publications & Resources

Yates, M. T., Ishikawa, T., Schneeberg, A., & Brussoni, M. (In Press). Pediatric Canadian Triage and Acuity Scale (PaedsCTAS) as a measure of injury severity. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.

Bell, N., Kruse, S., Simons, R. K., & Brussoni, M. (2014). A spatial analysis of functional outcomes and quality of life outcomes after pediatric injury. Injury Epidemiology1(16). DOI: 10.1186/s40621-014-0016-1 http://www.injepijournal.com/content/1/1/16

Kruse, S., Schneeberg, A., & Brussoni, M. (2014). Validity and reliability of the PedsQLTM among a pediatric injury population. Health and Quality of Life Outcomes, 12, 168. DOI: 10.1186/s12955-014-0168-2. http://www.hqlo.com/content/12/1/168

Brussoni, M., Kruse, S., & Walker, K. (2013). Validity and reliability of the EQ-5D-3L among a paediatric injury population. Health and Quality of Life Outcomes, 11, 157. DOI: 10.1186/1477-7525-11-157 http://www.hqlo.com/content/11/1/157

Funded By


This study looked at how introducing risky play through the use of natural elements, such as plants and trees, influences children’s development and well-being.

Recent generations of children have had their natural play environments substituted with pre-fabricated play spaces that optimize safety and risk reduction with little regard for children’s developmental and play needs. This study arose from concerns that societal and parental attempts to keep children safe may have gone too far when it comes to children’s opportunities to play, particularly outside.

We examined the effects of an intervention to increase access to nature and challenging play opportunities in the outdoor play environment of two childcare centres with low quality play spaces. Early Childhood Educators observed improved socialization, problem-solving, focus, self-regulation, creativity and self-confidence, and reduced stress, boredom and injury.

The findings suggest the importance of intentional design of outdoor environments to promote children’s wellbeing and development.

Publications & Resources

Herrington, S., & Brussoni, M. (2015). Beyond physical activity: The importance of play and nature-based play spaces for children’s health and development. Current Obesity Reports4(4), 477-483. DOI: 10.1007/s13679-015-0179-2

CTV News – Adding natural elements to playgrounds can help depression in kids [link]

The Globe and Mail – Kids happier in play spaces with elements of nature [link]

Funded By