Detroiters Concerned About Kids' Safety

More than half of residents in the City of Detroit and Wayne, Oakland and Macomb Counties interviewed in a recent survey funded by the Skillman Foundation said they are concerned about the safety of area children, but that the future does hold promise.

Youth violence and crime and its impact on the safety of area children comprised the topic of the third phase of a two-year “Concerning Kids” study of Metro Detroit residents commissioned by The Skillman Foundation. “The results will allow local area leaders and the public to better understand residents’ attitudes and concerns on children’s issues,” said Kari Schlachtenhaufen, President and CEO of The Skillman Foundation.

While answers varied from county to county and in the City of Detroit, a clear majority of residents said that they were “very concerned” about the safety of neighborhood children. Results were almost identical in Oakland (55%), out-Wayne (55%) and Macomb (53%) Counties. Detroit residents (79%) showed an even greater concern.

Residents believe the biggest threat to children is substance abuse. 75% or more of all respondents, regardless of where they live, are at least somewhat worried about children’s exposure to drugs. Non-Detroit residents, also indicate a major problem among area children is the consumption of alcohol by school-age children.

The biggest disparity in the study’s results regards the issue of neighborhood violence. Detroit residents are much more worried about murder, shootings and physical assault among youths than are non-Detroit residents. When it comes to the issue of gun violence in the neighborhood, more than five times as many Detroit residents considered it a “major problem,” than did their Out-Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counterparts.

There appears to be a positive outlook for the future despite the worries of residents and apparent dangers to neighborhood children. Over half of the respondents in all three counties and in Detroit feel that the lives of children will improve in the next year. The study found that parents, in particular, must do more if youth crime and violence is to become less of a threat. Poor parenting was identified by nearly 20% of the respondents, regardless of location, as the main cause for crime and violence committed by children in school.

In addition, respondents feel that crime and violence by youth can be reduced if children are presented with opportunities such as quality after-school programs and organized sports, as well as preventative measures like reducing the exposure to children of violence in the media.

The study was conducted by the Center for Survey Research and Analysis at the University of Connecticut and involved 403 residents of Detroit, 401 of Out-Wayne, 400 of Macomb and 402 of Oakland.

For the full report, check Our Resources page and download our PDF file or call 313-393-1185 to request a copy by mail.