Parents' perceptions of neighborhood safety and children's physical activity

Department of Pediatrics, New York Medical College, New York, New York, United States
Preventive Medicine (Impact Factor: 3.09). 09/2006; 43(3):212-7. DOI: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2006.03.024
Source: PubMed


The obesity epidemic disproportionately affects minority and poor children. Negative perceptions of neighborhood safety in poor communities may affect overweight by inhibiting children's physical activity. This study investigates the degree to which parents in a poor inner city vs. a middle-class suburban community limit their children's outdoor activity because of neighborhood safety concerns.
Parents of children aged 5-10 years from an inner city family practice in a poor community and from a suburban pediatric practice in a middle-class community completed a 20-item questionnaire. Parents estimated the amount of their child's activity in various situations and indicated their level of anxiety concerning gangs, child aggression, crime, traffic, and personal safety in their neighborhood.
Inner city children (n = 204) engaged in less physical activity than suburban children (N = 103) (P < 0.001). Inner city parents expressed much greater anxiety about neighborhood safety than suburban parents (P < 0.0001). In the inner city population, children's physical activity levels were negatively correlated with parental anxiety about neighborhood safety (r = -0.18, P < 0.05).
Inner city parents have high levels of anxiety about neighborhood safety. While these concerns may not entirely explain the discrepancy in activity levels between inner city and suburban children, a safe environment is crucial to increasing opportunities for physical activity.

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    • "Many studies have examined the association between family income and children's physical activity (PA) and have demonstrated that children living in poverty have limited access to resources and areas for play and PA than children whose families are producing higher incomes (Romero et al., 2001; Tandon et al., 2012). Findings, particularly from the inner city and suburban areas, have also shown that when children in poverty are exposed to resources and safe play areas, the areas are often perceived to be unsafe or not enriched (Goodway and Smith, 2005; Weir et al., 2006). Thus, disadvantaged children do not engage in PA and are not encouraged by their parents to utilize play environments for safety concerns. "
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    ABSTRACT: Objective: To examine potential differences in children's physical activity and parent support of their children's physical activity based on family income within the rural setting. Methods: A cross-sectional survey of 566 parents of children (5-15. years-old; mean. =. 7.7. years; standard deviation. =. 2.4) living in rural West Virginia from 2010 to 2011 was conducted. Children were recruited and had participated in a school-based health screening program. Results: Overall, parents from a rural setting reported that their children engaged in an average of five days of physical activity for at least 60. min. Upon closer examination, children from lower-income families engaged in more physical activity, on average, than children from higher income families per parent report (mean. =. 6.6. days, confidence interval 95%. =. 4.9-6.0 vs. middle-income mean. =. 5.0, confidence interval 95%. =. 4.4-5.3 and highest-income mean. =. 4.5, confidence interval 95%. =. 4.1-4.7; p. =. .01). Rural parents supported their children's physical activity in numerous ways. Parents with the lowest incomes were more likely than parents from higher income families to encourage their children to be active and use their immediate environment for play and to be directly involved in physical activity with their children. More affluent parents were more likely to transport their children to other activity opportunities than parents from the lower income brackets. Conclusions: Lower income families may utilize their immediate environment and encourage activity among their children whereas more affluent families focus on organized opportunity more often than lower income families. These findings emphasize the need to conceptualize the role family income plays in physical activity patterns and the potential benefit it provides to some families.
    02/2015; 2. DOI:10.1016/j.pmedr.2015.01.008
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    • "In addition, few efforts draw on citizen-informed evaluations that also provide an emic perspective on the safety and comfort of pedestrian environments. This is particularly important in evaluating street environments for child pedestrians and their parental gatekeepers, who have strong concerns about safety (Carver et al. 2008, 2010; Kerr et al. 2007; Weir et al. 2006). "
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    ABSTRACT: Black (2015): Refining the grain: using resident-based walkability audits to better understand walkable urban form, makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all the information (the "Content") contained in the publications on our platform. However, Taylor & Francis, our agents, and our licensors make no representations or warranties whatsoever as to the accuracy, completeness, or suitability for any purpose of the Content. Any opinions and views expressed in this publication are the opinions and views of the authors, and are not the views of or endorsed by Taylor & Francis. The accuracy of the Content should not be relied upon and should be independently verified with primary sources of information. Taylor and Francis shall not be liable for any losses, actions, claims, proceedings, demands, costs, expenses, damages, and other liabilities whatsoever or howsoever caused arising directly or indirectly in connection with, in relation to or arising out of the use of the Content. This article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes. Any substantial or systematic reproduction, redistribution, reselling, loan, sub-licensing, systematic supply, or
    Journal of Urbanism International Research on Placemaking and Urban Sustainability 01/2015; 8(3). DOI:10.1080/17549175.2014.990915
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    • "Molnar and colleagues (73) assessed social disorder in neighborhoods using videotapes of over 15,000 block faces, and saw significant negative associations between social disorder and physical activity in youth (73). Similarly, parental anxiety about neighborhood safety has been associated with reduced physical activity in inner city children (74). Interestingly, in a national sample of mothers of preschool children, it was reported that mothers’ perception of unsafe neighborhoods was related to increased children’s TV watching but no relationship was found for perceived safety and outdoor play time (75). "
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    ABSTRACT: Sedentary behavior is associated with overweight and obesity in children, and distance to school has been negatively associated with active commuting to school. It is not known how distance to school relates to sedentary behavior in children. The aim of this study was to investigate the association between distance to school and children's sedentary behavior during weekdays at times where children interact with the neighborhood environment. Children (5-13 years, n = 295) who participated in the understanding relationships between activity and neighborhoods study (2008-2010) across four New Zealand cities wore a hip-mounted accelerometer for 7 days. Minutes spent sedentary (accelerometer count <100 min(-1)) were derived for the school travel periods (0800-0859 and 1500-1559) and after school discretionary time (1600-1759). Shortest street network distance to school was calculated from residential addresses using geographical information systems and parsed into tertiles for analysis. Children completed a daily travel log including mode of transport to and from school, which was dichotomized into active (walking and cycling) and passive (motorized) modes. Children living in the second tertile of distance from school were the least sedentary during the school traveling periods (42 ± 10%, mean ± true between-child SD) compared to those living in the first or third distance tertiles (47 ± 10 and 49 ± 10%, respectively); the differences were clear and likely substantial (90% confidence limits ± 6%). Children who traveled by motorized transport were more sedentary for each of the distance tertiles (50 versus 44%, 46 versus 39%, and 54 versus 27% for first, second, and third tertiles, respectively; 90% confidence limits ± 7%). In the period of 1600-1759, girls in the third distance tertile were the most sedentary. The combined effects of 1-2 km distance from school and active commuting to school contributed to least sedentary time in children.
    Frontiers in Public Health 09/2014; 2:151. DOI:10.3389/fpubh.2014.00151
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