Risk behavior and perception among youths residing in urban public housing developments

Bull N Y Acad Med. Winter 1994;71(2):252-66.


The scientific literature and popular media suggest that variations in housing structure and neighborhood influence risk behaviors among youths living in low-income urban communities. To explore the importance of these factors on early sexual intercourse, substance use, drug trafficking, and school truancy, data from a community-based survey, conducted in six public housing developments in a major eastern metropolis, were analyzed. The survey group consisted of 300 youths aged 9 through 15 years. There were minimal differences in three potential mediators of risk behaviors (e.g., perceived social support, parenting style, and perceived risk exposure) and in self-reported adolescent risk behaviors among youths residing in different housing developments and between youths residing in high-rise and in low-rise structures. These findings do not support the hypothesis that within a risk-dense low-income environment, variations in building structure or in neighborhood are associated with differences in adolescent risk behaviors.