School-Level Economic Disparities in Police-Reported Crimes and Active Commuting to School

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Oct 16;18(20):10885. doi: 10.3390/ijerph182010885.


Perceived safety remains one of the main barriers for children to participate in active commuting to school (ACS). This ecological study examined the associations between the number of police-reported crimes in school neighborhoods and ACS. The percentage of active travel trips was assessed from a teacher tally survey collected from students across 63 elementary schools that were primarily classified as high-poverty (n = 27). Geographic Information System (GIS) was used to create a detailed measure of police-reported crimes during 2018 and neighborhood covariates that occurred within a one-mile Euclidean buffer of the schools. Statistical analyses included linear fixed effects regressions and negative binomial regressions. In fully-adjusted models, reported crime did not exhibit significant associations with ACS. Medium-poverty schools were indirectly associated with ACS when compared to high- and low-poverty schools in all models (p < 0.05). Connectivity and vehicle ownership were also directly associated with ACS (p < 0.05). Low- and medium-poverty schools were indirectly associated with all types of reported crime when compared to high-poverty schools (p < 0.05). Although reported crime was not associated with school-level ACS, differences in ACS and reported crime do exist across school poverty levels, suggesting a need to develop and promote safe and equitable ACS interventions.

Keywords: active commuting to school; active travel; children; crime; disparities; equity; physical activity; safety.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Crime
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Humans
  • Police*
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Schools
  • Transportation
  • Walking*