Neighborhood quality, childhood adversity, and child social and behavioral problems

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Rough, Haley Elizabeth

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This study assesses neighborhood quality and its associations with parents’ perceptions of their child’s internalizing problems, externalizing problems, and social problems. Childhood adversity is assessed as a possible mechanism by which neighborhoods are impactful for children and adolescents. Data were obtained from the 2018-2019 combined National Survey of Children’s Health dataset to examine the associations among neighborhood quality, adverse childhood experiences, and social and behavioral problems among US children aged 6-17 (N = 38,759). Moderation by developmental stage was also examined. Logistic regressions, mediation, moderation, and moderated mediation analyses were run. Logistic regressions showed that higher neighborhood quality was associated with a lower risk of internalizing problems (OR = 0.37, 95% CI 0.29—0.46), externalizing problems (OR = 0.44, 95% CI 0.37—0.52), and social problems (OR = 0.30, 95% CI 0.25—0.36). Mediation analyses showed small indirect effects for childhood adversity as a mediator in the association between neighborhood quality and each child outcome (β = -.03 to -.04, p < .001). Moderation analyses and moderated mediation analyses resulted in non-significant effects, concluding that there were no differences by developmental stage for each outcome measure. The findings of this study convey the importance that neighborhoods play on child and adolescent outcomes and encourage policymakers and community stakeholders to take the necessary steps to detect neighborhoods in need of resources and support to reduce negative child outcomes.


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