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How children in disadvantaged areas keep safe

Turner, K. and Hill, M. and Stafford, A. and Walker, M. (2006) How children in disadvantaged areas keep safe. Health Education, 106 (6). pp. 450-464. ISSN 0965-4283

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The paper sets out to describe how children from disadvantaged areas perceive their communities and actively negotiate threats in their lives. A total of 60 interviews and 16 discussions groups were held with 8 to 14-year-olds sampled from four deprived communities located in the West of Scotland. Participants were asked about their local area and how they kept safe. Data were coded thematically and area, age and gender differences examined. Children mentioned both positive and negative aspects of their local area. Positive elements primarily related to being near friends and important adults. The negatives were linked to local youth gangs, adults, litter and graffiti, traffic, and drug and alcohol misuse. Participants used both preventive and reactive strategies to keep safe. Owing to the strategies used to sample areas and participants, the extent to which findings can be generalised is limited. Thus, the study should be repeated on a larger scale, with areas and participants being randomly sampled. The article will enable practitioners and policy makers concerned with the wellbeing and safety of young people in deprived areas to frame interventions that are in line with children's own concerns and preferred means for dealing with challenges. The paper provides fresh insights into how children from deprived areas perceive their communities and deal with the risks and tensions they face. It highlights the subtle balancing involved in peer relationships that are central to both support and threats in children's everyday lives.