Objective This study examined associations between mothers’ and fathers’ depressive symptoms and their parenting practices relating to gun, fire, and motor vehicle safety. Methods Using data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort (ECLS-B), a nationally representative sample of children birth to age five, linear probability models were used to examine associations between measures of parents’ depressive symptoms and their use of firearms, smoke detectors, and motor vehicle restraints. Parents reported use of smoke detectors, motor vehicle restraints, and firearm ownership and storage. Results Results suggest mothers with moderate or severe depressive symptoms were 2 % points less likely to report that their child always sat in the back seat of the car, and 3 % points less likely to have at least one working smoke detector in the home. Fathers’ depressive symptoms were associated with a lower likelihood of both owning a gun and of it being stored locked. Fathers’ depressive symptoms amplified associations between mothers’ depressive symptoms and owning a gun, such that having both parents exhibit depressive symptoms was associated with an increased likelihood of gun ownership of between 2 and 6 % points. Conclusions Interventions that identify and treat parental depression early may be effective in promoting appropriate safety behaviors among families with young children.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
The reported sample sizes are rounded to the nearest 50, per NCES regulations regarding disclosure of restricted-use data. Asian and American Indian children, twins, and low and very low birth weight children were oversampled.
In the fall of 2006, information was collected from all participating children, approximately 75 % of whom were in kindergarten or a higher grade. In the fall of 2007, data were collected from the remaining 25 % of participants who had not yet entered kindergarten, as well as from those who were repeating kindergarten in the 2007–2008 school year.
Phelan, K. J., Khoury, J., Kalkwarf, H., & Lanphear, B. (2005). Residential injuries in U.S. children and adolescents. Public Health Reports, 120(1), 63–70.
Danseco, E. R., Miller, T. R., & Spicer, R. S. (2000). Incidence and costs of 1987–1994 childhood injuries: Demographic breakdowns. Pediatrics, 105(2), e27–e27. doi:10.1542/peds.105.2.e27.
Nagaraja, J., Menkedick, J., Phelan, K. J., Ashley, P., Zhang, X., & Lanphear, B. P. (2005). Deaths from residential injuries in US children and adolescents, 1985–1997. Pediatrics, 116(2), 454–461. doi:10.1542/peds.2004-1415.
Hoyert, D. L., Xu, J., & Statistics, V. (2012). National vital statistics reports deaths: Preliminary data for 2011. Hyattsville, MD.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Injury Prevention & Control: Data and statistics (WISQARS). (2013). http://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/index.html.
Schuster, M. A., Franke, T. M., Bastian, A. M., Sor, S., & Halfon, N. (2000). Firearm storage patterns in US homes with children. American Journal of Public Health, 90(4), 588–594.
Phillips, J. A. (2013). Factors associated with temporal and spatial patterns in suicide rates across U.S. states, 1976–2000. Demography, 50(2), 591–614. doi:10.1007/s13524-012-0176-y.
Drake, B. (2015). 5 facts about the NRA and guns in America. Pew Res Center, FactTank News Numbers. 2014. http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/04/24/5-facts-about-the-nra-and-guns-in-america/. Accessed July 6, 2015.
Kellermann, A. L., Rivara, F. P., Rushforth, N. B., et al. (1993). Gun ownership as a risk factor for homicide in the home. New England Journal of Medicine, 329, 1084–1091.
Miller, M. (2012). Preventing suicide by preventing lethal injury: The need to act on what we already know. American Journal of Public Health, 102(Suppl), e1–e3. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2012.300662.
Lewiecki, E. M., & Miller, S. (2013). Suicide, guns, and public policy. American Journal of Public Health, 103(1), 27–31. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2012.300964.
Miller, M., Azrael, D., & Hemenway, D. (2002). Household firearm ownership and suicide rates in the United States. Epidemiology, 13(5), 517–524. doi:10.1097/00001648-200209000-00006.
American Academy of Pediatrics. (2013) Firearms safety. Washington, DC. http://www.aap.org/en-us/advocacy-and-policy/state-advocacy/Documents/firearms_slr.pdf.
Becher, E. C., & Christakis, N. A. (1999). Firearm injury prevention counseling: Are we missing the mark? Pediatrics, 104(3), 530–535.
Rho, H. (2013). The pediatricians versus the NRA about kids and guns. Slate. 2013. http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/medical_examiner/2013/02/pediatricians_and_nra_physician_gag_rules_and_the_cdc_aca_and_states.html.
Kellermann, A. L., & Rivara, F. P. (2012). Silencing the science on gun research. JAMA, 8160, 1–2. doi:10.1001/jama.2012.208207.
NHSTA. Fatality analysis reporting system (FARS) Encyclopedia. NCSA Data Resour Natl Highw Traffic Saf Adm. http://xn-www-fars-3m3d.nhtsa.dot.gov/Main/index.aspx.
Committee on Injury, Violence and PP. (2011). Child passenger safety. Pediatrics 127(4):e1050–e1066. doi:10.1542/peds.2011-0215.
Durbin, D. R. (2011). Child passenger safety. Pediatrics, 127(4), 788–793. doi:10.1542/peds.2011-0213.
Arbogast, K. B., Durbin, D. R., Cornejo, R., Kallan, M. J., & Winston, F. K. (2004). An evaluation of the effectiveness of forward facing child restraint systems. Accident Analysis and Prevention, 36(4), 585–589. doi:10.1016/S0001-4575(03)00065-4.
Zaloshnja, E., Miller, T. R., & Hendrie, D. (2007). Effectiveness of child safety seats versus safety belts for children aged 2–3 years. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, 161(1), 65–68. doi:10.1001/archpedi.161.1.65.
Elliott, M. R., Kallan, M. J., Durbin, D. R., & Winston, F. K. (2006). Effectiveness of child safety seats versus seat belts in reducing risk for death in children in passenger vehicle crashes. Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, 160(6), 617–621. doi:10.1001/archpedi.160.6.617.
Istre, G. R., McCoy, M., Carlin, D. K., & McClain, J. (2002). Residential fire related deaths and injuries among children: Fireplay, smoke alarms, and prevention. Injury Prevention, 8(2), 128–132. doi:10.1136/ip.8.2.128.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Preventing fire deaths and injuries: CDC activities programs: Smoke alarm installation and fire-safety accomplishments: Funded partnership saves lives. National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. 2010. http://www.cdc.gov/HomeandRecreationalSafety/Fire-Prevention/fireactivities.htm.
McAnarney, E. R., & Stevens-Simon, C. (1990). Maternal psychological stress/depression and low birth weight: Is there a relationship? American Journal of Diseases of Children, 144(7), 789–792. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1990.02150310057027.
Pachter, L. M., Auinger, P., Palmer, R., & Weitzman, M. (2006). Do parenting and the home environment, maternal depression, neighborhood, and chronic poverty affect child behavioral problems differently in different racial-ethnic groups? Pediatrics, 117(4), 1329–1338. doi:10.1542/peds.2005-1784.
Turney, K. (2012). Pathways of disadvantage: Explaining the relationship between maternal depression and children’s problem behaviors. Social Science Research, 41(6), 1546–1564. doi:10.1016/j.ssresearch.2012.06.003.
Bronte-Tinkew, J., Zaslow, M., Capps, R., Horowitz, A., & McNamara, M. (2007). Food insecurity works through depression, parenting, and infant feeding to influence overweight and health in toddlers. Journal of Nutrition, 137(9), 2160–2165.
Dimatteo, M. R., Lepper, H. S., & Croghan, T. W. (2000). Depression is a risk factor for noncompliance with medical treatment. Archives of Internal Medicine, 160, 2101–2107.
Field, T. (2010). Postpartum depression effects on early interactions, parenting, and safety practices: A review. Infant Behavior and Development, 33(1), 1–6. doi:10.1016/j.infbeh.2009.10.005.
Cummings, E. M., & Davies, P. T. (1994). Maternal depression and child development. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 35(1), 73–122.
Phelan, K., Khoury, J., Atherton, H., & Kahn, R. S. (2007). Maternal depression, child behavior, and injury. Injury Prevention, 13(6), 403–408. doi:10.1136/ip.2006.014571.
Witt, W. P., Fortuna, L., Wu, E., et al. (2006). Children’s use of motor vehicle restraints: Maternal psychological distress, maternal motor vehicle restraint practices, and sociodemographics. Ambulatory Pediatrics, 6(3), 145–151.
Leiferman, J. (2002). The effect of maternal depressive symptomatology on maternal behaviors associated with child health. Health Education & Behavior, 29(5), 596–607. doi:10.1177/109019802237027.
McLennan, J. D., & Kotelchuck, M. (2000). Parental prevention practices for young children in the context of maternal depression. Pediatrics, 105(5), 1090–1095. doi:10.1542/peds.105.5.1090.
Chung, E. K., Mccollum, K. F., Elo, I. T., Lee, H. J., Jennifer, F., & Culhane, J. F. (2004). Maternal depressive symptoms and infant health practices among low-income women. Pediatrics, 113, e523.
Meadows, S., McLanahan, S., & Brooks-Gunn, J. (2007). Parental depression and anxiety and early childhood behavior problems across family types. Journal of Marriage and Family, 69(5), 1162–1177.
England, M. J., & Sim, L. J. (2009). Committee on depression, parenting practices, and the healthy development of children. Depression in parents, parenting, and children: Opportunities to improve identification, treatment, and prevention. Washington, DC.
Radloff, L. S. (1977). The CES-D: A self-report depression scale for research in the general population. Applied Psychological Measurement, 1, 385–401.
Paulson, J. F., Dauber, S., & Leiferman, J. A. (2006). Individual and combined effects of maternal and paternal depression on parenting behavior. Pediatrics, 118(2), 659–668.
Kessler, R. C., Andrews, G., Mroczek, D., Ustun, B., & Wittchen, H.-U. (1998). The world health organization composite international diagnostic interview short-form (CIDI-SF). International Journal of Methods in Psychiatric Research, 7(4), 171–185. doi:10.1002/mpr.47.
World Health Organization. (1990). The composite international diagnostic interview (CIDI). Geneva: World Health Organization.
Egede, L. E. (2004). Diabetes, major depression, and functional disability among U.S. adults. Diabetes Care 27(2):421–428. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14747223.
Miller, M., & Henenway, D. (2008). Guns and suicide in the United States. New England Journal of Medicine, 359(10), 989–991.
Institute of Medicine. Priorities for research to reduce the threat of firearm-related violence. Washington, DC; 2013. http://www.iom.edu/Reports/2013/Priorities-for-Research-to-Reduce-the-Threat-of-Firearm-Related-Violence/Report-Brief060513.aspx.
Taryn Morrissey had full access to all of the data in the study and takes responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis, and does not have any conflicts of interest that might be interpreted as influencing the manuscript. Katie Vinopal provided excellent research assistance. Participants at the Society for Research in Child Development Special Topics conference in April 2014 provided helpful comments.
About this article
Cite this article
Morrissey, T.W. Parents’ Depressive Symptoms and Gun, Fire, and Motor Vehicle Safety Practices. Matern Child Health J 20, 799–807 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10995-015-1910-z
- Maternal depressive symptoms
- Paternal depressive symptoms
- Firearm safety
- Fire safety
- Motor vehicle safety