‘I'll be driving you to school for the rest of your life’: A qualitative study of parents' fear of stranger danger

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Parents' concern about children's safety is a recurring theme in studies exploring children's independent mobility and play. However, few studies have investigated neighbourhood features influencing parents' fear of strangers harming their child, nor the extent to which this fear is influenced by socio-economic status (SES). We explored i) parents' perceived risk of, and fear of, stranger danger; ii) physical and social environmental factors influencing parents' fear, including differences by SES; and iii) strategies to manage parents' fear. Seven focus groups were conducted with 34 parents of 4-12 year olds living in low, mid and high SES suburbs in Perth, Western Australia. Physical neighbourhood features influencing parents' fear of stranger danger included visibility, people, streets, dwelling type and neighbourhood upkeep. Social environment factors included SES, neighbourhood network, sociocultural influences and media. Findings support the creation of neighbourhoods that enhance natural surveillance and encourage social interaction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)112-120
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Environmental Psychology
Early online date8 Jul 2017
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2017

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