Perceived School and Neighborhood Safety, Neighborhood Violence and Academic Achievement in Urban School Children

A. J. Milam, C. D.M. Furr-Holden, P. J. Leaf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Community and school violence continue to be a major public health problem, especially among urban children and adolescents. Little research has focused on the effect of school safety and neighborhood violence on academic performance. This study examines the effect of the school and neighborhood climate on academic achievement among a population of 3rd-5th grade students in an urban public school system. Community and school safety were assessed using the School Climate Survey, an annual City-wide assessment of student's perception of school and community safety. Community violence was measured using the Neighborhood Inventory for Environmental Typology, an objective observational assessment of neighborhood characteristics. Academic achievement was measured using the Maryland State Assessment (MSA), a standardized exam given to all Maryland 3rd-8th graders. School Climate Data and MSA data were aggregated by school and grade. Objective assessments of neighborhood environment and students' self-reported school and neighborhood safety were both strongly associated with academic performance. Increasing neighborhood violence was associated with statistically significant decreases from 4.2 to 8.7% in math and reading achievement; increasing perceived safety was associated with significant increases in achievement from 16 to 22%. These preliminary findings highlight the adverse impact of perceived safety and community violence exposure on primary school children's academic performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)458-467
Number of pages10
JournalUrban Review
Issue number5
StatePublished - Dec 2010


  • Academic performance
  • Environment
  • Neighborhood
  • Violence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Urban Studies


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