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“I’ve seen what evil men do”: Military mothering and children’s outdoor risky play

APA Citation:

Bauer, M. E. E., Giles, A. R., & Brussoni, M. (2024). 'I’ve seen what evil men do’: Military mothering and children’s outdoor risky play. Leisure Sciences, 46(2), 150-166. https://doi.org/10.1080/01490400.2021.1920521

Abstract Created by REACH:

This study explored perceptions of risky outdoor play among Canadian military mothers (i.e., mothers who were partnered with Canadian military Service members). Risky play was defined as behaviors with the potential to result in injury or disappearance (e.g., climbing tall trees, playing away from close parental supervision). The authors hypothesized that the unique experiences of these mothers connected to military culture may relate to their concerns regarding children’s risky play behaviors. Sixteen mothers participated in interviews concerning their children and risky play. In general, themes highlighted mothers’ concerns about general safety. A minority of concerns were connected to military experiences.



Branch of Service:

International Military

Military Affiliation:

Active Duty

Subject Affiliation:

Spouse of service member or veteran


Adulthood (18 yrs & older)
Thirties (30 - 39 yrs)
Middle age (40 - 64 yrs)


Cross-Sectional Study
Qualitative Study


Bauer, Michelle E. E., Giles, Audrey R., Brussoni, Mariana


The restrictions on children’s outdoor risky play is emerging as a pressing public health concern. To the best of our knowledge, no research has examined military mothers’ perspectives on outdoor risky play. Military mothers have unique knowledge of war and combat and potential threats to children’s safety due to their communications with their partners in combat arms occupations. Their perspectives on outdoor risky play are important to consider to expand scholarly understandings of risk discourses in the context of military culture. We conducted semi-structured interviews with 16 military mothers from across Canada. The results of our reflexive thematic analysis are threefold: (1) Outdoor risky play in close physical proximity to strangers and cars is dangerous for children; (2) outdoor risky play should not result in children experiencing serious injuries; and (3) outdoor risky play can teach children to assess and manage risks.

Publisher/Sponsoring Organization:

Taylor & Francis

Publication Type:

REACH Publication

Author Affiliation:

Interdisciplinary School of Health Sciences, University of Ottawa, MEEB
School of Human Kinetics, University of Ottawa, ARG
Department of Pediatrics, School of Population and Public Health, University of British Columbia, British Columbia Children’s Hospital Research Institute, MB


child health, injury prevention, military mothering, outdoor play, risk

View Research Summary:

REACH Publication Type:

Research Summary


This research was approved by the Department of National Defense's Social Science Research Review Board and supported through the Military Family Resource Centre. This work was further supported through the first author's receipt of a doctoral award by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada under award #756-2021-0278; and by the first author's receipt of an Ontario Graduate Scholarship under award #010-027-650. The third author is supported by a salary award from the British Columbia Children's Hospital Research Institute.

REACH Newsletter:

  November 2021

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