• In the Shadow of the Ivory Tower: Neighborhood Relations in a College Town

      Powell, Kathleen H.; Oktay, Julianne S. (2013)
      Residential neighborhoods adjacent to a higher education institution are home to diverse groups of people who share neither a common sense of community (McMillan & Chavis, 1986) nor the same degree of attachment to place (Low & Altman, 1992). These neighborhoods are characterized by transience and a lack of cohesion. They are highly prized by higher education institutions, municipal governments, and private developers who vie for control of their assets that include an ample supply of park-like spaces and ready access to cultural, educational, and sporting events and facilities. Despite this interest, the existing research on campus-adjacent neighborhoods is emerging and lacks internal consistency and methodological sophistication. Without a base of knowledge to understand these neighborhoods, the movement to establish stronger university-community partnerships is likely to be compromised. The aim of this year-long ethnographic study was to examine the culture of a campus-adjacent residential neighborhood in a small Appalachian city that is home to a public university in order to better understand the intergroup relations among residents who call this neighborhood "home." The study's design was informed by a paradigmatic synthesis and a social ecological framework. It included multiple methodological components to allow for multivocality and triangulation. Those components included participant observation, archival research, interviews, photography, GIS mapping, a series of focus groups, and a small Photovice project. Findings from the study were grouped into five major themes: (1) life in a "company town;" (2) historical context; (3) "hosts" and "guests;" (4) alcohol and other drugs; and (5) studentification (a term used to describe the transition of a campus-adjacent neighborhood from one dominated by owner-occupied homes to one dominated by "student rentals"). These findings were analyzed metaphorically and theoretically. Theoretically, the findings were linked to three areas: self and collective efficacy, intergroup relations, and ghettoization. The study reaffirms social work's commitment to community practice including neighborhood organizing, community development, and social planning. Its insights shed light on intergroup relations in diverse neighborhoods dominated by an anchor institution.
    • Neighborhood conditions, father involvement, parenting competence, and behavior problems in a sample of children at risk for neglect: A structural equation model

      Hayward, R. Anna; DePanfilis, Diane (2009)
      Internalizing and externalizing behaviors in children have been associated with continued patterns of anti-social behavior into adolescence and adulthood, including later risk for arrest (Patterson et al., 1992) and adult substance abuse (Ferdinand, Blum, & Verhulst, 2001). The primary aim of this dissertation was to broaden the understanding of neighborhood and family factors associated with child behavior problems in a sample of children residing in impoverished urban neighborhoods who were at risk for child neglect. This study used a cross sectional design to conduct secondary data analyses on 199 families who were served by the Family Connections program. The primary aim was to test a structural model explicating the relationships among neighborhood characteristics, perceived social capital, father involvement, parenting competence, and child behavior problems. Structural equation modeling (SEM) with robust maximum likelihood (MLM) estimation was used to test two structural regression models. Good model fit was obtained for both the internalizing behavior (Santorra-Bentler Scaled χ2= 57.9753 (df=30); χ2//df=1.9; RMSEA= .06; SRMR=.07; GFI=.94; NNFI=.91; CFI=.94) and externalizing behavior (Santorra-Bentler Scaled χ2= 58.8362 (df=30); χ2/df= 1.96; RMSEA= .06; SRMR=.07; GFI=.93; NNFI=.90; CFI=.93) models. Examination of path estimates revealed an indirect effect of neighborhood and social capital constructs on child behavior via parenting, but no direct effect of neighborhood or social capital on either internalizing or externalizing child behavior. Father involvement was not associated with parenting sense of competence but was related to externalizing behavior at a level that was statistically significant yet small in magnitude, and unrelated to child internalizing behavior in this analysis. The relationship between parenting competence and child behavior problems was significant for both models. This relationship was the largest in magnitude in the analysis. The combined effects of neighborhood conditions, social capital, father involvement, and parent competence for accounted for 24% (for internalizing) and 20% (for externalizing) of the variance with most of this observed effect deriving from the parenting construct.
    • The neighborhood correlates of child maltreatment: Montgomery County, Maryland

      Ernst, Joy Swanson; Zuravin, Susan J., 1944- (1999)
      This study aimed to extend theoretical and empirical knowledge about the neighborhood-level determinants of child maltreatment in a suburban jurisdiction. The objectives were to: (1) compare the distribution by neighborhood of physical abuse, neglect, and sexual abuse; (2) identify and compare the neighborhood correlates of these three types of child maltreatment; (3) identify and compare racial- and ethnic-specific rates and correlates of child maltreatment; and (4) replicate a study of community-level factors and child maltreatment in Cleveland, Ohio, with Montgomery County, Maryland, data. Families investigated for child maltreatment in 1995 were matched to their U.S. census tract, the operational definition of neighborhood. Rates of maltreatment were calculated and mapped for each of the county's 159 tracts and used as dependent variables in regression models that revealed the neighborhood-level correlates of three, types of maltreatment and racial- and ethnic-specific rates of maltreatment. Predictor variables hypothesized to represent economic and social resources were derived from 1990 U.S. census data. To replicate the Cleveland study, variables representing levels of community social organization were subjected to a principal components analysis. Factors derived from that analysis were used as independent variables in a regression analysis of the child maltreatment rate.;Results for each objective extended knowledge of neighborhood-level factors associated with maltreatment. First, the distribution of child maltreatment varied by type of maltreatment and by neighborhood. Physical abuse was the most common; sexual abuse the least common. Second, variables representing economic and social resources accounted for a significant proportion of the variance in rates of physical abuse, neglect, and sexual abuse. Social resource variables contributed independently to the variance in the rates of physical abuse. Significant correlates varied by type of maltreatment. Third, the rates and distribution of maltreatment differed by racial and ethnic group, with the highest rates among Black families and the lowest among White families. The set of predictor variables accounted for a significant proportion of the variance in the rates of both White and Black maltreatment. Fourth, the replication revealed that neighborhood rates of child maltreatment varied with community-level factors associated with economic disadvantage and residential instability.
    • Neighborhood Disorder and Mental Health Outcomes Among a Sample of Baltimore City Residents: The Influence of Urban Parks, Social Cohesion, and Social Control

      Mattocks, Nicole; Meyer, Megan; 0000-0002-4935-0859 (2019)
      The physical and social environments have increasingly received attention as key factors that explain health outcomes and health disparities for individuals. Recent studies have shown that being exposed to high levels of physical and social disorder (i.e., crime, vandalism, vacant buildings, drug activity) in the neighborhood environment can compromise mental health by generating fear, stress, anxiety and depression. Residents of urban disadvantaged neighborhoods are most at risk of exposure to disorder, and also experience higher rates of anxiety and depression, compared to those living in other settings. Some studies suggest green spaces (e.g., parks, gardens, tree canopy) and collective efficacy (i.e., social cohesion and informal social control) provide mental health benefits in the urban neighborhood environment. However, the relationships among these factors, and how they impact mental health in urban environments is complex, and research in this area is limited. The purpose of this study was to elucidate the relationships between these factors by first examining how one indicator of green space, proximity to parks, moderates the relationship between neighborhood disorder and mental health, and second testing whether social cohesion and informal social control mediate this relationship, for a sample of adults living in Baltimore City. Results from multilevel models demonstrated that neighborhood disorder was associated with anxiety and depression symptoms, consistent with theory and prior research. Proximity to parks did not moderate this relationship; however, social cohesion partially mediated the associations between disorder and both depression and anxiety, while social control partially mediated the association between disorder and anxiety, but not depression. Contrary to expectations, higher levels of perceived social control were linked to higher levels of anxiety symptoms. This study demonstrates that neighborhood conditions matter to individual mental health, and perceptions of the social environment act as an important pathway through which the environment influences mental health for Baltimore residents. More study is needed to understand the relationship between exposure to urban parks and mental health. Findings from this study contribute to our understanding of the social determinants of health, and provide further evidence that the neighborhood context is critical to the mental health of urban residents.