We Never See Children in Parks: A Qualitative Examination of the Role of Safety Concerns on Physical Activity Among Children

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Background:

Previous literature indicates physical activity and obesity are interrelated problems, especially among children in disorganized environments.

Methods:

Qualitative focus groups were conducted with parents of elementary school children located within the Mississippi Delta to answer one overarching research question: “What influence do safety concerns have on physical activity for children in the Mississippi Delta?”

Results:

There were 2 large themes; first was that recreational areas were criminal and the second was that safety concerns were a barrier to physical activity. Safety concerns as a barrier to physical activity rendered 3 sub-themes, including 1) Parental fear of crime inhibited the use of public recreational spaces, 2) Parental perceptions of police as ineffective and untrustworthy reduced the use of public spaces where children might play, and 3) Parents often expressed safety-induced intense supervision requirements that limited the physical activity of their children.

Conclusions:

Our study provides valuable insights into the mechanisms by which safety concerns limit physical activity of children in the Mississippi Delta.

Rader (nrader@soc.msstate.edu) is with the Dept of Sociology, Mississippi State University, Mississippi State, MS. Byrd, Fountain, and Frugé are with the Dept of Food Science, Nutrition, and Health Promotion, Mississippi State University, Mississippi State, MS. Bounds is with the Dept of Criminology, University of West Georgia, Carrollton, GA. Gray is with the Dept of Family and Consumer Sciences, California State University, Long Beach, CA.