Étudiante-chercheure étoile July 2015

Carolyn Côté-Lussier

Postdoctoral fellow in Preventive and Social Medicine
Université de Montréal

Award-winning publication: A child's view: social and physical environmental features differentially predict parent and child perceived neighborhood safety

Published in: Journal of Urban Health


"Parent and child perceived neighborhood safety are associated with children's health and well-being outcomes, including academic achievement, sleep quality, asthma, physical activity, and psychological distress. Although previous studies identify environmental features linked to parent perceived safety, little is known about the determinants of child perceived safety. Identifying neighborhood features associated with children's own perceived safety is in line with the United Nations Conventions on the Rights of the Child, which recommends giving weight to the views of children in order to improve their well-being. This study is the first to simultaneously consider a comprehensive set of social (neighborhood income level, social cohesion) and physical environment (traffic, lighting, vegetation) features linked to children's and parents' overall perceived safety."

Carolyn Côté-Lussier points out that a perceived lack of safety can act as a barrier for individual and community well-being. While parents exert some control over their children's behaviors, children's perceptions are also important as they start to experience freedom and autonomy. This research represents an innovative approach by drawing on criminological and socioecological models that consider the complex and dynamic interactions between individuals and their physical and sociocultural surroundings. In line with previous findings, the results suggest that interventions targeting features signaling a breakdown of 'healthy' community features such as social control, cohesion, and order, could increase personal felt safety among adults. This project also makes a unique contribution by demonstrating that increasing neighborhood greenery and lighting may have separate positive effects on children's overall feelings of safety.