Neighbourhood and community contexts

Rates of childhood disorder vary in different neighbourhoods and communities. Early British studies suggested that risks of disorder were doubled in an inner-city area compared with an area of small townsA5) Urbanization is frequently associated with increased risks of disorder, and rates may be especially high in chronically disadvantaged inner-city neighbourhoods. In early childhood, many of these effects seem to be indirect; neighbourhood disadvantage increases stress on families, and these in turn largely account for associations with children's difficulties. In severely disadvantaged settings, however, even quite young children may be directly exposed to community violence/16 and in adolescence, neighbourhood influences may be mediated through associations with delinquent peers. Evidence from the United States, for example, shows that risks of youth violence are increased in neighbourhoods in which drugs are readily available, where adolescents are exposed to models of adult crime and racial prejudice, and where perceptions of community disorganization are high. Peer influences may be central in mediating these effects.

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