Journal of Urban Health

, Volume 81, Issue 4, pp 545–555 | Cite as

Child pedestrians: The role of parental beliefs and practices in promoting safe walking in urban neighborhoods

  • Andrea Carlson Gielen
  • Susan DeFrancesco
  • David Bishai
  • Patricia Mahoney
  • Shiu Ho
  • Bernard Guyer


The purpose of this study was to describe parents’ child pedestrian safety practices, knowledge, risk perceptions, and beliefs. We surveyed 732 parents from four elementary schools in urban neighborhoods that differed in income, and child pedestrian injury risks. Findings indicated that most parents taught their children street safety. Few (16%) knew basic pedestrian safety facts; 46% believed children younger than 10 years could safely cross streets alone; 50% believed a child pedestrian crash was likely. Parents in lower income neighborhoods reported the highest rates of unpleasant walking environments and concerns about drug dealers, crime, violence, and trash. We conclude that education should focus on children’s risk, developmental capabilities, and supervision needs. Promoting physical activity in urban neighborhoods, especially lower income ones, must address concerns about the physical and social environment.


Child pedestrian safety Injury prevention Neighborhood walkability Safety practices Supervision 


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Copyright information

© The New York Academy of Medicine 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrea Carlson Gielen
    • 2
  • Susan DeFrancesco
    • 2
  • David Bishai
    • 2
  • Patricia Mahoney
    • 2
  • Shiu Ho
    • 1
  • Bernard Guyer
    • 2
  1. 1.University of Maryland School of MedicineUSA
  2. 2.Center for Injury and PolicyJohns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public HealthBaltimore

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