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The more crime reported in the neighborhood, the fewer elementary-age kids play in New York City parks—especially girls. That's the finding of a recent study that compared park use with police reports made one week, one month and three months beforehand in low-income communities surrounding 20 public parks.
"Reports of violent crime at any of those time intervals were associated with fewer park visitors, but we found the strongest association was for crimes that took place three months prior to our park visits, not those within the past week," says study co-author Aaron Hipp, associate professor of community health and sustainability in North Carolina State University's College of Natural Resources. "It's the opposite of what we might have expected to see."
Increase - Crimes - Months - % - Children
An increase in violent crimes over the previous three months was associated with 22% fewer children in parks. However, more property crime reports also were associated with fewer girls in parks.
"This could be an example of parents potentially reacting differently with daughters versus sons," Hipp says. "We're assuming that parents are less likely to let their daughters go to the park or take their daughters to the park with them than they are with boys.
Gender - Bias - Park - Use - Research
"Seeing a gender bias in park use is significant because prior research shows us that girls seem to stop using parks after about age 10 or 12, whereas boys don't."
The study is part of a larger research project involving children's park access and park use in communities of color in New York and North Carolina. Researchers at NC State, Columbia University and Drexel University collaborated on the research.
Kids - Parks - Kids - Parks - Recreation
"We're looking at what gets kids to parks and what keeps kids away from parks, because recreation can help improve public health and prevent childhood obesity," Hipp explains. "We focused on children from ages 5 to 10 for this research...
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