Journal of Urban Health

, Volume 92, Issue 3, pp 472–489 | Cite as

Neighborhood Crime-Related Safety and Its Relation to Children’s Physical Activity

  • Stephanie H. Kneeshaw-PriceEmail author
  • Brian E. Saelens
  • James F. Sallis
  • Lawrence D. Frank
  • David E. Grembowski
  • Peggy A. Hannon
  • Nicholas L. Smith
  • K. C. Gary Chan


Crime is both a societal safety and public health issue. Examining different measures and aspects of crime-related safety and their correlations may provide insight into the unclear relationship between crime and children’s physical activity. We evaluated five neighborhood crime-related safety measures to determine how they were interrelated. We then explored which crime-related safety measures were associated with children’s total moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) and MVPA in their neighborhoods. Significant positive correlations between observed neighborhood incivilities and parents’ perceptions of general crime and disorder were found (r = 0.30, p = 0.0002), as were associations between parents’ perceptions of general crime and disorder and perceptions of stranger danger (r = 0.30, p = 0.0002). Parent report of prior crime victimization in their neighborhood was associated with observed neighborhood incivilities (r = 0.22, p = 0.007) and their perceptions of both stranger danger (r = 0.24, p = 0.003) and general crime and disorder (r = 0.37, p < 0.0001). After accounting for covariates, police-reported crime within the census block group in which children lived was associated with less physical activity, both total and in their neighborhood (beta = −0.09, p = 0.005, beta = −0.01, p = 0.02, respectively). Neighborhood-active children living in the lowest crime-quartile neighborhoods based on police reports had 40 min more of total MVPA on average compared to neighborhood-active children living in the highest crime-quartile neighborhoods. Findings suggest that police reports of neighborhood crime may be contributing to lower children’s physical activity.


Crime Neighborhood Children Physical activity 



The authors would like to thank all of the NIK children and parents for their participation. We would also like to thank Ms. Chris Haley of the San Diego Police Department and her team for granting the request for data and compiling the cross-street level police-reported crime data used in the current study; Dr. Matthew Dunbar, Tim Thomas, and Mike Babb of the University of Washington’s Center for Studies in Demography and Ecology for their insight and assistance with GIS and geocoding the San Diego police-reported crimes; and Dr. Robert Crutchfield, Dr. Nicole Bracy, Dr. Amy Hillier, and Dr. Kris Day for their time and insight regarding crime data.


The NIK project was supported by the NIH National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS R01 ES014240). Partial support for this research also came from a Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development research infrastructure grant, 5R24HD042828, to the Center for Studies in Demography and Ecology at the University of Washington. Finally, the first author received training funding (NCCR TL1 RR025016) from the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), to conduct this research.


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Copyright information

© The New York Academy of Medicine 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stephanie H. Kneeshaw-Price
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Brian E. Saelens
    • 3
    • 4
  • James F. Sallis
    • 5
  • Lawrence D. Frank
    • 6
    • 7
  • David E. Grembowski
    • 2
  • Peggy A. Hannon
    • 2
  • Nicholas L. Smith
    • 8
    • 9
    • 10
  • K. C. Gary Chan
    • 2
    • 11
  1. 1.New Jersey State Department of HealthFamily Centered Care ServicesTrentonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Health ServicesUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  3. 3.Department of PediatricsUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  4. 4.Center for Child Health, Behavior and DevelopmentSeattle Children’s Research InstituteSeattleUSA
  5. 5.Department of Family and Preventive MedicineUniversity of CaliforniaSan DiegoUSA
  6. 6.Schools of Population and Public Health and Community and Regional PlanningUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  7. 7.Urban Design 4 Health, Inc.SeattleUSA
  8. 8.Department of EpidemiologyUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  9. 9.Seattle Epidemiologic Research and Information Center of the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Research and DevelopmentUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  10. 10.Group Health Research InstituteUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  11. 11.Department of BiostatisticsUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA

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