Making neighborhoods safer: Examining predictors of residents’ concerns about neighborhood safety

Pitner, R. O., Yu, M., & Brown, E.

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Pitner, R. O., Yu, M., & Brown, E. (2012). Making neighborhoods safer: Examining predictors of residents’ concerns about neighborhood safety. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 32, 43–49.

Broken Windows , Collective Efficacy , Crime , Incivility , Neighborhood Violence , Perceptions

This study examined what factors best predict residents’ concerns about neighborhood safety. One-hundred and twenty-two participants were selected from a large, Midwestern metropolitan area. All participants lived in high crime areas. Participants completed a 22-item questionnaire that assessed their perceptions of neighborhood safety and vigilance. These items were clustered as: 1) Community care and vigilance, 2) neighborhood safety concerns, 3) physical incivilities, and 4) social incivilities. Police crime data were also used in the analyses. Our findings suggest that aspects of the broken window theory, collective efficacy, and place attachments/territoriality play a role in affecting residents’ concerns about neighborhood safety.

Main finding
What factors best predict concerns about neighborhood safety? In this study of residents of high-crime areas, higher concern about neighborhood safety is correlated with higher levels of perceived physical incivilities, higher crimes against person and property, and lower levels of community care and vigilance. Contrarily, expressed neighborhood pride and a sense of community, as well as stated willingness to take action to protect their neighborhood is associated with less concerns about neighborhood safety.

Description of method used in the article
Written or telephone survey (N = 122) of residents in a large Midwestern metropolitan area (82.8% female, 65% black, 35% white, average 54.1 years old). Participants were all receiving services from a non-profit that provides residents of high-crime areas with crime prevention devices (e.g., dead-bolt locks, window-ventilators, door peepholes, basement window bars). Survey contains items related to (a) neighborhood safety, (b) perceived environmental crime (community care, physical incivilities, social incivilities), and (c) demographics.

Of some practical use if combined with other research

Organising categories

Crime and Aggression
Physical types
Geographic locations