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UGA research to keep farm children safer

By Brad Haire
University of Georgia

University of Georgia researchers will soon begin studying Georgia farm families to find out the best ways to keep children safer when they grow up on farms. They're looking for families to participate.

The three-year project is called AgTeen. Researchers from the UGA colleges of Family and Consumer Sciences and Agricultural and Environmental Sciences will study the safety habits of Georgia farm families who grow peanuts and cotton.

"We've chosen cotton and peanut crops due to the fact few safety guidelines have been developed for the equipment specific to these crops," said project head Zolinda Stoneman, director of the UGA Institute on Human Development and Disability.

Georgia grows half of the U.S. peanut crop each year and is one of the largest cotton-producing states.

In most family businesses, children live away from the work place. But children raised by farmers typically live on the farm. They're more easily exposed to farming hazards.

Farming is one of the most deadly jobs in the United States. For young workers, it accounted for 42 percent of all work-related deaths between 1992 and 2000, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. More than 100 children are killed and 26,000 seriously injured in U.S. farm-related accidents each year.

The study will begin in January. Families will be divided into three groups. Over the year, each will be given farm safety lessons at home. They'll be expected to do family activity lessons and mail completed written materials to the research team.

The researchers want Georgia farm families with both male and female heads of households and at least one child 10 to 19 years old. The farm needs to grow cotton, peanuts or both during the study. Families will be paid for their time.

The study will be used to develop educational programs to keep all farm children safer in the future.

To find out more about the study or to participate, call (877) 524-6264. Or visit the Web site (www.agteen.com).

A $1.1 million grant from NIOSH and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will fund the study for three years.

(Brad Haire is the former news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)

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