Neighborhood Risk Factors
Neighborhoods provide a context in which individuals find either support(s) or obstacles to healthy living. Neighborhood characteristics can include such environmental risk factors as peer rejection, lax enforcement of purchase-by-minors laws, extreme poverty, neighborhood crime, and failure to do well in school. They can also include such environmental protective factors as close friends, an extended family that provides support, community resources that families can turn to for help, and family and community attitudes that do not tolerate substance abuse.
Children and adolescents are especially vulnerable to the risk and protective factors associated with neighborhoods. Bonding to one’s neighborhood, support for children from adults other than their parents within the neighborhood and neighborhood activities that promote pride in the neighborhood are all measurable. Among the factors we can list are:
Many of these items are included in sections of the County Profiles under Community Risk Factors (availability of drugs, and laws and norms, and social and economic deprivation). Three variables included in this chapter on Neighborhood Risk Factors are vacant housing and influences from outside the neighborhood due to travel in and out for work (commuting data).
An informative discussion on the importance of the neighborhood in relationship to risk and protective factors for substance abuse, mental health and other problem behaviors is: Andrea L. Stone, Linda G. Becker, Alice M. Huber, Richard F. Catalano, “Review of risk and protective factors of substance use and problem use in emerging adulthood, Addictive Behaviors 37/7 (2012):747–775 Accessed 1-9-2012 at http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0306460312000810
Stone, et al, reference the work of Buu, et al, (“Parent, Family, and Neighborhood Effects on the Development of Child Substance Use and Other Psychopathology From Preschool to the Start of Adulthood,” Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs 70/4 (2009):489-498 Accessed 1-15-2013 at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2696289/. Buu, et al, found that neighborhood instability is “an important risk factor for the development of substance-use disorder and other comorbid psychopathology.” They found that instability of neighborhood residence in childhood was associated with late adolescent substance abuse and other disorders including alcohol and marijuana, major depression and antisocial personality, and also was associated with nicotine-dependence.