A new study has cautioned parents from allowing their teenage children to roam aimlessly without any supervision even if the community/neighbourhood is good.
After studying Chicago neighbourhoods for a long time, researchers found that informal teen gatherings significantly increased the likelihood of violent behavior by the adolescents.
AdvertisementThe study findings indicated that communities that often had groups of unsupervised teens also had higher levels of violence - including many relatively 'good' neighbourhoods where residents trust and help each other and watch each other's children.
"Even if you trust all your neighbours and all the teens are 'A' students, it is best to assume that groups of teens just hanging out can lead to problems, including violence," Christopher Browning, co-author of the study and associate professor of sociology at Ohio State University said.
"The findings tap into the debate about how much structure is appropriate for kids today," he added.
The survey and study were designed to examine how the environments of 80 different Chicago neighbourhoods affected their residents' lives in a variety of ways.
The results showed a complex relationship between teen violence and the kind of neighbourhood that the teens lived in, Browning said.
"Even if you trust all your neighbours and all the teens are 'A' students, it is best to assume that groups of teens just hanging out can lead to problems, including violence," Browning said.
"Parents feel more relaxed about sending their kids out without adult supervision, because they trust their neighbours," he added.
"Communities need both the shared willingness to control adolescent behavior in public space and the capacity to provide adolescents with options other than unsupervised 'hanging out,'" he further said.
Browning conducted the study with David Maimon, a former Ohio State graduate student now at the University of Maryland. The study was published in the current issue of the journal Criminology.
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