The physical environment can affect the physical health, safety, social opportunities, and development of a child. Poor neighborhood conditions, such as dilapidated housing, evidence of vandalism, and litter or garbage on the street may contribute adversely, either directly or indirectly, to a child’s overall well-being.
Parents of 17.0 percent of children reported that they lived in neighborhoods with litter or garbage on the street or sidewalk, while 14.6 percent of children were reported to live in neighborhoods with poorly kept or dilapidated housing, and 11.6 percent lived in neighborhoods with evidence of vandalism, such as broken windows or graffiti. Overall, 71.4 percent of children were reported to live in neighborhoods with none of these conditions, while the remaining 28.6 percent lived in neighborhoods with at least one of these conditions.
A small percentage of children—approximately 3.8 percent, regardless of location—lived in areas with all three of these conditions. The percentage of children whose neighborhoods have any of these conditions was highest in small rural areas (33.8 percent) and lowest in urban areas (27.7 percent).
The percentage of children whose neighborhoods have litter or garbage on the street or sidewalk did not vary substantially by location. Rural children were more likely to live in neighborhoods with poorly kept or dilapidated housing: 21.1 percent of those in large rural areas and 23.5 percent of those in small rural areas, compared to 12.9 percent of urban children. Children in urban areas were the most likely to live in neighborhoods with evidence of vandalism: this was reported by the parents of 12.2 percent of urban children, compared to 9.3 percent of children in large rural areas and 8.9 percent of those in small rural communities.