04 May 2007

Social networks of children strengthen neighborhoods

Contrary to popular opinion, children play a key role in strengthening local communities and making people feel safe in their neighbourhoods, according to a study funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

Much panic today about childhood in urban areas is based on a very partial picture, argue the authors...(whose) report challenges previous theories that social networks are largely determined by parents. According to the evidence they found, children are active - both indirectly and directly – in forging neighbourly relationships and connections for their parents.
They found that the more parents were involved in the lives of their neighbours, the more freedom they gave their children. At the same time, the more social networks children have in a neighbourhood, the greater parents’ confidence in the safety of that area.

Many parents questioned were often torn between wishing to protect their children and wanting them to be streetwise.

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