U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration

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Perceived Neighborhood Safety

An unsafe neighborhood can have negative effects on a child’s health, from limiting physical activity to risking injury. In 2007, the parents of 2.6 percent of children reported that their child was never safe in their neighborhood or community, while an additional 11.4 percent of children had parents who felt that they were only sometimes safe. The parents of the remaining 86.1 percent of children felt that their child was usually or always safe in their neighborhood.

Perceived neighborhood safety varies by a number of factors. Children living in households with incomes of 400 percent or more of the Federal poverty level ($20,650 for a family of four in 2007) were significantly more likely than children living in households with incomes below 100 percent of the Federal poverty level to have parents report that their child was usually or always safe in their neighborhood (94.0 versus 72.3 percent).

Neighborhood safety, as reported by parents, varies by the geographic setting of the neighborhood or community. In 2007, the parents of 84.1 percent of children who lived in urban areas reported that their child was usually or always safe, compared to 93.0 of children who lived in suburban areas. Perceived safety also varies by race/ethnicity and family structure: the parents of non-Hispanic White children were most likely to report that they are usually or always safe, while non-Hispanic Black children were least likely, and children living in households with two biological or adoptive parents were most likely to be usually or always safe while children living in single-mother households were least likely to be usually or always safe (data not shown).

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