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Neighbourhood social trust and youth perceptions of safety during daily activities
  1. Kalen Flynn1,
  2. Therese S Richmond2,
  3. Charles C Branas3,
  4. Douglas J Wiebe4
  1. 1School of Social Policy and Practice, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
  2. 2School of Nursing, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
  3. 3Department of Epidemiology, Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, New York City, New York, USA
  4. 4Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
  1. Correspondence to Kalen Flynn, School of Social Policy and Practice, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia 19104-6214, Pennsylvania, USA; kalenf{at}


Exposure to adverse neighbourhood conditions can negatively impact adolescent well-being and perceived safety. However, the impact of neighbourhood social trust on perceived safety is largely unknown. We studied 139 adolescent men to investigate how their perceptions of safety varied as a function of social trust levels in the neighbourhoods they traversed; neighbourhoods that were not necessarily their own. Adolescents mapped their minute-by-minute activities over a recent day and rated their perceived safety on a 10-point scale during in-person interviews. Neighbourhood social trust was measured via a citywide random sample survey. Mixed effects regression showed that, compared with their safety perceptions when in areas of low social trust, older adolescents were 73% more likely to feel unsafe when in areas of medium social trust, and 89% more likely to feel unsafe when in areas of high social trust. Inverse relationships between neighbourhood social trust and adolescents’ perceived safety highlight the complex interplay between youth, environmental contexts and safety.

  • safe community
  • violence
  • adolescent

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  • Contributors KF completed the analysis and wrote the manuscript. TSR and CCB provided significant conceptual and editorial feedback. DJW reviewed the analysis, was a key thought partner throughout the process and provided in-depth editorial guidance.

  • Funding This study was funded by grants R01AA014944 and K02AA017974 from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval The parent study and theanalyses presented were approved by the University of Pennsylvania’s Institutional Review Board.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.