An ethnography of low-income mothers' safeguarding efforts

J Safety Res. 2008;39(6):609-16. doi: 10.1016/j.jsr.2008.10.006. Epub 2008 Nov 12.


Problem: Children living in lower-income environments are at greater risk for unintentional injuries. However, little is known about the safety practices of mothers living in low-income situations.

Method: This ethnographic study explored the child safeguarding experiences of low-income mothers using in-home interviews and observations.

Results: Mothers' safeguarding efforts included cognitive and emotional work, child directed work, and work directed at the physical and social environments. Factors that influenced the women's safeguarding included the quality of the indoor space, availability of safe play space, traffic hazards, sibling interactions, child care supports, relationships with neighbors, and trust in community services.

Discussion: These findings have implications for the conceptualization of safeguarding practices and provide insight about the experiences of mothers living on low-incomes.

Impact on industry: When developing safety interventions, program planners should consider the views and practices of mothers as well as contextual factors in the physical and social environments.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anthropology, Cultural
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Poverty / psychology
  • Qualitative Research
  • Risk Factors
  • Safety*
  • Social Environment*
  • Social Perception
  • Social Support
  • Socioeconomic Factors