Parents share their experiences about neighborhood safety

Our team interviewed parents and asked them about the experience of raising their children in the neighborhood where they live. ISOTIS researchers Charlotte Meijers and Martine Broekhuizen (Utrecht University) tell us about the experiences shared by parents with a Turkish or Moroccan background living in the Netherlands, in Utrecht or Rotterdam, in this new blog post (in Dutch).

According to the researchers, many parents perceive their neighborhood as unsafe. They do not let their children play outside alone, despite they recognize the importance of children playing outside with friends, and doing exercise. Parents feel unsafe in the neighborhood due to, for instance, drug dealers, crime, traffic, and dangerous substances or objects, such as needles, on the street and playgrounds.

Parents would like to see more control by the police. For them, a safe playground would be well-organized, well-sealed, and illuminated in the evening. Parents also value activities and sports facilities for children in the neighborhood. Other initiatives mentioned that contribute to a safer neighborhood include:

- The arrival of youth workers and teams that, for instance, offer free accessible basic care to families and young people. Several parents say that they have built up a relationship of trust with a team member, and they can ask this person for help.

- Informative meetings about the neighborhood, that may include sharing knowledge about dangers for children. A valued initiative mentioned concerns a project conducted in a number of neighborhoods in Rotterdam, where police, in collaboration with staff from area, youth workers and schools, give parents information about issues that children of the neighborhood may encounter, such as street culture and (youth) crime. Check this project here.

- Initiatives to improve the atmosphere of the neighborhood. For instance, a group of mothers decided to clean it up regularly. Other initiatives include organizing a 'plant day', during which residents put plants and flowers in different places, or making and painting benches, with the involvement of the children. These activities can help residents to get to know and help each other.

- Initiatives to get to know people in the neighborhood, such as street festivals or an annual activity organized with neighbors. By knowing who lives in the neighborhood, mutual trust can be strengthened and personal contact can be created more quickly. This contributes to feelings of safety and familiarity in the neighborhood.

The researchers highlight that taking into account these practices and initiatives is therefore important to improve the safety of the neighborhoods for children and families. Parents themselves have the motivation to contribute to the safety of the environment where they live.

Read the full blog post in Dutch: http://www.isotis.org/blog/2019/01/18/veilig-opgroeien-in-de-wijk/