Despite the national push encouraging children to walk to school, little work has been done to examine what hazards children encounter on the route to school. This study examined the association between the presence of alcohol outlets on children’s route to school and perceived safety on the route to school as well as exposure to alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs (ATOD). Data come from a community-based epidemiological study of 394 urban elementary school students. Participants’ residential address, school location, and alcohol outlet data were geocoded and the route to school was mapped. The route to school layer and the geocoded alcohol outlet data were joined to determine the number of alcohol outlets children pass on the route to school. Logistic regression models estimated the association between the presence of alcohol outlets on the route to school, alcohol and drug exposure, and self-reported safety. Children with an alcohol outlet on the route to school were more likely to be offered ATOD (OR = 2.20, p = 0.02) as well as be exposed to drug selling (OR = 1.72, p = 0.02) and seeing people using drugs (OR = 1.93, p = 0.02). After adjusting for individual-level variables, the relationship between presence of alcohol outlets and being offered ATOD and seeing people using drugs remained significant. However, after adjusting for individual-level control variables and a proxy for the larger neighborhood context, the association between the presence of alcohol outlets and exposure to ATOD was no longer significant. As national campaigns are encouraging children to walk to school, it is essential to consider what children are exposed to on the route to school.
Prevention Science – Springer Journals
Published: Feb 14, 2013
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