Maternal Fears of Children’s Outdoor Play: The Influence of Neighborhood Poverty, Mental Health, Social Support, and Collective Efficacy

Rachel T. Kimbro, Rice University
Ariela Schachter, Stanford University

Investigating children’s outdoor play unites scholarship on neighborhoods, parental perceptions of safety, and children’s health. Utilizing the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (N=3,448), we examine mothers’ fear of their five-year-old children playing outdoors, testing associations with neighborhood social characteristics, city-level crime rates, maternal mental health, and social support. Living in public housing, perceptions of low neighborhood collective efficacy, and living in a Census tract with a higher proportion of Blacks and households in poverty are associated with higher odds of maternal fear, but crime rates are not a significant predictor of fear. We also demonstrate that positive mental health – but not social support or collective efficacy – buffers the influence of neighborhood poverty on a mother’s fear of her child playing outside.

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Presented in Session 43: Immigration, Child Health, and Community