The Effects of Length of Residence and Exposure to Violence on Perceptions of Neighborhood Safety in an Urban Sample
- 12 Downloads
Perceptions of neighborhood safety shape the well-being of individuals and communities, affecting neighborhood walkability, associated physical activity behaviors, and health conditions. However, less is known about the factors that determine perceptions of safety. One factor that may affect perceptions of neighborhood safety is the length of time someone has lived in their neighborhood. We use a representative, adult sample of urban low-income residents from the 2015 New Haven Health Survey (n = 1189) to investigate the associations between length of residence (new residents of < 1 year in neighborhood versus longer-term residents of 1 or more years in neighborhood) and perceptions of neighborhood safety (whether feeling unsafe to walk at night). We then examine the potential moderating effect of exposure to neighborhood violence on these associations. We find that the association between length of residence and perceived safety differs by exposure to neighborhood violence. Among those unexposed to neighborhood violence, longer-term neighborhood residents were more likely to feel unsafe compared to new residents (OR = 2.03, 95% CI 1.19, 3.45). Additionally, the effect of exposure to violence on feelings of safety was larger for new residents (OR = 9.10, 95% CI 2.72, 30.44) compared to longer-term residents (OR = 1.88, 95% CI 1.28, 2.77). Our findings suggest that length of residence may have implications for feelings of safety, and that experiences of violence may uniquely contribute to feelings of unsafety among new residents. These findings hold implications for interventions and policy efforts aimed at neighborhood safety improvements through community development, housing, or city urban planning initiatives, particularly for new neighborhood residents or those who experience neighborhood violence.
KeywordsPerceptions of safety Residential stability Length of residence Exposure to violence Violence Neighborhood
This research was funded by the Patrick and Catherine Weldon Donaghue Medical Research Foundation (grant DF 08-202), Yale New Haven Health System, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention under the Health Promotion and Disease Preventions Research Centers Program (grant 5U48DP005023).
- 13.Franzini L, Elliott MN, Cuccaro P, Schuster M, Gilliland MJ, Grunbaum JA, et al. Influences of physical and social neighborhood environments on children’s physical activity and obesity. Am J Public Health. 2009;99(2):271–8. https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2007.128702.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- 23.Gross K, Aday S. The scary world in your living room and neighborhood: using local broadcast news, neighborhood crime rates, and personal experience to test agenda setting and cultivation. J Commun. 2003;53(3):411–26. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1460-2466.2003.tb02599.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 25.Renzetti CM, Maier SL. “Private” crime in public housing: violent victimization, fear of crime and social isolation among women public housing residents. Women’s Health Urban Life: Int Interdisciplinary J. 2002;1(2):46–65.Google Scholar
- 27.Klinenberg E. Heat wave: a social autopsy of disaster in Chicago. Chicago: University of Chicago Press; 2015.Google Scholar
- 35.Schulz AJ, Israel BA, Zenk SN, Parker EA, Lichtenstein R, Shellman-Weir S, et al. Psychosocial stress and social support as mediators of relationships between income, length of residence and depressive symptoms among African American women on Detroit’s eastside. Soc Sci Med. 2006;62(2):510–22. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.socscimed.2005.06.028.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- 38.Johnson SL, Solomon BS, Shields WC, McDonald EM, McKenzie LB, Gielen AC. Neighborhood violence and its association with mothers’ health: assessing the relative importance of perceived safety and exposure to violence. J Urban Health. 2009;86(4):538–50. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11524-009-9345-8.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- 39.Rasmussen A, Aber MS, Bhana A. Adolescent coping and neighborhood violence: perceptions, exposure, and urban youths’ efforts to deal with danger. Am J Community Psychol. 2004;33(1–2):61–75. https://doi.org/10.1023/B:AJCP.0000014319.32655.66.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- 45.Earls FJ, Brooks-Gunn J, Raudenbush SW, Sampson RJ. Project on human development in Chicago neighborhoods (PHDCN): addendum (primary caregiver), wave 3, 2000–2002: inter-university consortium for political and social research (ICPSR) [distributor]. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research; 2007.Google Scholar
- 48.Tyler TR. Assessing the risk of crime victimization: the integration of personal victimization experience and socially transmitted information. J Soc Issues. 1984;40(1):27–38. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-4560.1984.tb01080.x.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 50.Kull MA, Coley RL, Lynch AD. The roles of instability and housing in low-income families’ residential mobility. J Fam Econ Iss. 2016;37(3):422–34. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10834-015-9465-0.
- 57.Kuo FE, Sullivan WC. Environment and crime in the inner city: does vegetation reduce crime? Environ Behav. 2001;33(3):343–67.Google Scholar