Unintentional injuries continue to be a serious public-health problem for children and are higher for boys than for girls, from infancy through adulthood. Literature on differential socialization concerning risky behaviors and gender stereotypes suggests that sex differences in unintentional injuries could be explained by children's differential feedback to social pressure, leading to behaviors which conform to masculine and feminine stereotypes. We made the prediction that boys' and girls' conformity with masculine stereotypes influences injury-risk behaviors among preschoolers. Masculinity score, femininity score, and injury-risk behaviors of 170 3-6-year old children (89 boys and 81 girls) were measured indirectly on two scales filled out by their parents. Results show that boys' and girls' injury-risk behaviors are predicted by masculine stereotype conformity and that girls' masculine behaviors decline with increasing age. These results underline the impact of gender-roles - and of the differential socialization associated with those roles - on sex differences in children's risky behaviors as early as the preschool period.
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