Why neighborhood safety matters
Having a safe neighborhood is important for positive child and youth development. Neighborhoods that are unsafe are associated with high rates of infant mortality and low birthweight, juvenile delinquency, high school dropout, child abuse and neglect, and poor motor and social development among pre-school children. Conversely, children who live in highly supportive neighborhoods have positive outcomes such as stronger connections with family, peers and community, and greater participation in out-of-school time programs, volunteering, and religious services.
Neighborhoods with high levels of crime are often densely populated, mixed use (businesses and residences in the same area) areas, with concentrated poverty, a transient population, a high proportion of single-parent households, and dilapidated buildings.,, Children and adolescents living in neighborhoods characterized by crime or disorganization are more likely to become victims of violent crime and to perpetrate acts of violence. Children who witness crime and violence are more likely to experience social and emotional problems such as aggression, stress, and withdrawal, as well as delinquency and low school achievement.,
Parents who report that their neighborhood is unsafe may limit their children’s time in outdoor independent play, which can decrease the child’s opportunities for spontaneous play and exploration. However, such restrictions may also result in better social behavior because of increased parental supervision. Children of parents who believe their neighborhood is unsafe may also be less likely to engage in physical activity  and more likely to be overweight.