The physical environment can affect the physical health, safety, social opportunities, and development of a child. Poor neighborhood conditions, such as rundown 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.
Approximately 16 percent of children in all locations were reported to live in neighborhoods with litter or garbage on the street or sidewalk. Children in small rural areas were most likely to live in neighborhoods with poorly kept or dilapidated housing (25.5 percent), followed by those in large rural areas (22.0 percent), while only 14.7 percent of urban children did so. Children in urban areas were the most likely to live in neighborhoods with evidence of vandalism (12.3 percent), compared to 9.7 percent of children in large rural areas and 8.0 percent of those in small rural areas.
The number of detracting elements in children’s neighborhoods varied by location, with urban children more likely to report none of these conditions, as well as all three conditions than their rural peers. Overall, 72.3 percent of children in urban areas were reported to live in neighborhoods with none of these conditions, compared to 67.3 percent of children in large rural areas and 65.5 percent of those in small rural areas. A small percentage of children (3.9 percent) lived in areas with all three of these conditions, and this was more common among children in urban areas. The percentage of children whose neighborhoods have any of these conditions was highest in small rural areas (34.5 percent) and lowest in urban areas (27.8 percent).