Feeling unsafe in urban areas: exploring older children’s geographies of fear
In contrast to the adult and aspatial focus of much research, this paper examines older children’s feelings of fear/safety in two contrasting British urban residential areas, and in the nearby city centre. In their home areas, children in the deprived area feel less safe than those in the wealthier suburb. However, in the city centre, the poorer-area children feel safer than their wealthier-area counterparts, suggesting a home-area moderating effect. Regarding gendered-area differences in safety, boys and girls have similar perspectives on their home areas, but significant gender differences exist for the city centre. Area should be a key dimension in conceptual frameworks for understanding fear and safety, with due awareness of home and nonhome areas, and gendered-area differences. Explanations for children’s anxieties indicate the importance of fear of groups of teenagers and the relevance of social disorganization. Tackling the perceived problem of teenage groups should be one policy priority in urban areas in which social disorder is pronounced. Keywords: children’s fears, gender, home area, social disorganization, teenage groups, public space
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