Abstract: Evaluating the Impacts of Sustained Exposure to Crime on Early Childhood Development (Society for Prevention Research 24th Annual Meeting)

320 Evaluating the Impacts of Sustained Exposure to Crime on Early Childhood Development

Wednesday, June 1, 2016
Pacific D/L (Hyatt Regency San Francisco)
* noted as presenting author
Brandt A. Richardson, BA, Research Assistant, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, Saint Paul, MN
Judy Temple, PhD, Professor, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, Minneapolis, MN
Arthur J. Reynolds, PhD, Professor, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, Minneapolis, MN
Previous research has investigated the impacts on parents and children when gangs and violence are pressing concerns to the family. If families live in a violent neighborhood, preschool children cannot develop skills that generally occur outside the home (e.g. skills developed on playgrounds). (Scheinfeld, 1983). Sharkey (2010, 2012) investigated the impacts of a local homicide on preschoolers and found that homicide has negative impacts on children’s vocabulary and reading skills, as well as attention and impulse control. They find that these impacts persist for several days, but may disappear in the long run.

In the present study, we investigate the impacts of sustained exposure to crime on the socio-emotional, physical and academic development of low-income preschool students in an urban, inner-city environment. We also compare the impacts of crime on students that attend a Chicago Child Parent Center program, a high quality early education intervention (Reynolds, 2014), to see if the impacts are lessened. We hypothesize that sustained exposure to crime negatively impacts socioemotional development and academic achievement, but that these impacts are lessened when a student attends a high quality early education intervention.

Using police crime reports, we collected all crime documented within .5 miles of each preschool site during the school year. We use the total number of incidents, as well as various types of crime, ranging from property to violent crime. Using a cohort of 2,630 inner city students, where 1,724 attended a CPC program, we exploit the variation in exposure to crime both individually and at the school level. Many students in our sample enrolled in preschool after the start of the school year, or left prematurely. Using attendance dates, we are able to create individual measures of crime that each student experienced within the school area.

            We examine the impact on crime on preschool development using a validated, teacher administered evaluation (TSGOLD) that covers both academic outcomes as well socio-emotional and physical well-being. We also analyze the impacts on average daily attendance and chronic absence rates. We control for a rich set of covariates, including demographic characteristics, baseline test scores and school level characteristics. Preliminary evidence with 2012 data indicates negative correlation with several outcomes, including socioemotional and science achievement, though more refined methods are required. We fixed effect models to attempt to identify a causal impact of crime on preschool development and if the CPC program can eliminate any potential negative impacts.