by T Banerjee, JA Uhm, D Bahl

Journal of Planning Education and Research 34(2):123-40


A study was conducted with inner city minority children regarding their awareness of community safety issues. Interviews were conducted with fifth-graders attending five grade schools throughout Los Angeles. An attempt was made to understand the children’s experience of walking to school and how their cognitive, enactive, and affective responses shaped their experiences and preferences. The children reported a high level of safety hazards located in their neighborhoods and along their typical routes to school. During the interviews, many of the 5th grader’s ideas for improvements involved the built and social environments. The majority of children reported safety concerns that were social in nature, often involving crime, drugs, or gang-related issues. Both barriers to and attractors of walking were more closely related to the children’s perceptions of the social milieu of the proximate environment rather than environmental features. Busy, commercial arterials with more traffic were perceived by the children as being safer walking environments in comparison to quiet, isolated, more aesthetic streets without traffic. The majority of research on this topic has been primarily concerned with the quality of the built environment, whereas results from this study highlight the importance of the social milieu. Policy efforts promoting walking to school need to address children’s concerns about crime, drug, and gang-related issues, along with safety around traffic

Region: Los Angeles, California
Publication Type: Journal article
Keywords: children and youth, crime, policy, and safety