Responsibility for children's physical activity: parental, child, and teacher perspectives

J Sci Med Sport. 2010 Jan;13(1):46-52. doi: 10.1016/j.jsams.2009.02.006. Epub 2009 May 8.


Some large-scale child physical activity campaigns have focused on the concept of responsibility, however, there are no measures which establish a link between responsible behavior and physical activity levels. To provide the basis of information required for the development of relevant measurement tools, this study examined the meaning of personal, parental, and third party responsibility for children's physical activity. Eight focus groups, comprising children aged 11-12 yrs, their parents, and teachers from two upper primary schools in Auckland, New Zealand, were conducted. Children (four groups; n=32), their parents (two groups; n=13), and teachers (two groups; n=15) were separated by socio-economic status, and children also by gender. The transcripts from the focus group interviews were then analysed using thematic induction methodology. Across the groups, participants commonly identified a number of behaviors that they felt were indicative of personal, parental, and third party responsibility for children's physical activity. These behaviors formed natural groups with common themes (e.g., self-management, safety), which in most cases were not impacted on by socio-economic status or gender. Responsibility was therefore found to be a concept that could be related to children's physical activity. It was suggested that these behaviors could be used as a starting point in understanding the relationship between responsibility and physical activity, and to assist with the development of measurement tools assessing the relationship between responsibility and levels of physical activity in the future. In turn, this may lead to the development of more targeted messages for large-scale physical activity campaigns.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Behavior / psychology*
  • Exercise / psychology*
  • Faculty
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Health Behavior
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Activity*
  • New Zealand
  • Parent-Child Relations
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Schools
  • Social Responsibility*