Black South African children's understanding of health and illness: colds, chicken pox, broken arms and AIDS
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This study examines the understanding of both health and illnesses (colds, broken arms, chicken pox, AIDS) in the same black South African children. Differences across age in children's expressed understanding of health and illnesses were found. The 9-year-olds were more likely to give objective signs of chicken pox and AIDS than the 5-year-olds. They also knew more about objective symptoms of colds, chicken pox and AIDS, and were more likely to mention non-observable signs of colds and broken arms. Although there were no differences between the two age groups regarding "knowing" strategies for avoiding illnesses, the older children had a more accurate knowledge about preventive measures that the younger children. The understanding of AIDS followed the same developmental sequence reported for children's understanding of general physical illness. The results have implications for the creation of developmentally appropriate and effective health and AIDS education curricula for primary and elementary grades.