Child pedestrians: the role of parental beliefs and practices in promoting safe walking in urban neighborhoods

J Urban Health. 2004 Dec;81(4):545-55. doi: 10.1093/jurban/jth139.


The purpose of this study was to describe parents' child pedestrian safety practices, knowledge, risk perceptions, and beliefs. We surveyed 732 parents from four elementary schools in urban neighborhoods that differed in income, and child pedestrian injury risks. Findings indicated that most parents taught their children street safety. Few (16%) knew basic pedestrian safety facts; 46% believed children younger than 10 years could safely cross streets alone; 50% believed a child pedestrian crash was likely. Parents in lower income neighborhoods reported the highest rates of unpleasant walking environments and concerns about drug dealers, crime, violence, and trash. We conclude that education should focus on children's risk, developmental capabilities, and supervision needs. Promoting physical activity in urban neighborhoods, especially lower income ones, must address concerns about the physical and social environment.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic / prevention & control*
  • Baltimore
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Parent-Child Relations*
  • Residence Characteristics*
  • Safety*
  • Social Class
  • Urban Population*
  • Walking*