The quality of the neighborhood where a child grows up has a significant impact on the number of problem behaviors they display during elementary and teenage years, a study led by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health researchers suggests.
The findings, published in the November issue of Social Science & Medicine, indicate that neighborhood quality has significant and long-term effects on child and adolescent problem behaviors, findings that can help inform national, state, and local housing policy and community investment decisions.
Using survey data collected between 1997 and 2007 on 3,563 children, the researchers found that children seven to 12 years old had significantly more serious behavior problems if they lived in neighborhoods that their parent rated as “poor” for raising children, compared to those living in the “excellent” neighborhoods. For the study, parents rated their neighborhoods as either ‘excellent,’ ‘very good,’ ‘good,’ ‘fair,’ or ‘poor’ for raising children, with 20 being the highest score, for excellent, and zero, for poor. Externalizing problem behavior scores were 1.7 points lower for those in ‘excellent’ neighborhoods; the average problem behavior score was four, with possible values ranging from zero to 20.