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The role of urban neighborhood green space in children’s emotional and behavioral resilience

Summary


Access to nearby green space can have a positive effect on low-income urban children’s social and behavioral development

This study was conducted in England with urban families who had participated in the United Kingdom’s Millennium Cohort Study (MCS). The major purpose of the study was to assess the impact of green space on children’s emotional well-being and resilience to risk factors in low-income environments.

The authors employed a rigorous quantitative assessment based on the findings of the UK Millennium Cohort Study (MCS) that keeps track of children born each year, starting in 2000. The MCS assesses, among other factors, parent or guardian-reported child behavioral and emotional problems. After controlling for those children with parent or guardian-reported child behavioral and emotional problems, analysis of 6,348 children ages 3, 5 and 7 was conducted. MCS survey results were combined with a neighborhood green space measure calculated from the Generalized Land Use Database (essentially a GIS layer map assessing the types of land use throughout the UK). The authors applied a variety of factors to assess children’s lives and potential life stresses including the reported emotional and behavioral problems, family socio-economic disadvantage, life adversity, neighborhood disadvantage, material and child health, maternal education and child activity level, and general child and family demographics.

This study did not find that nature serves as a stand-alone buffer against living in a lower socio-economic neighborhood. However, for children ages 3 and 5, this study suggests that frequent use of nearby green space can have a positive effect on low-income children’s pro-social peer interactions, behavioral problems and hyperactivity. The more green space available, the stronger the effect. While conducted in England, the results may have implications for urban planning throughout the world. Increased access to high quality green space for poor children and their families can have a positive influence on their lives and their life stresses.

 

 

Citation

Flouri, E., Midouhas, E., Joshi, H., (2014). The role of urban neighborhood green space in children’s emotional and behavioral resilience. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 40, 179 - 186.

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