Children in the urban environment: an issue for the new public health agenda

Davis, A. and Jones, L. J. (1996). Children in the urban environment: an issue for the new public health agenda. Health & Place, 2(2) pp. 107–113.



Children's independent mobility and access are routinely undermined by the structures and constraining values of contemporary urban environments. Although they are major users of their local areas, children are conspicuous by their absence in discussions about transport, planning and environmental health and there have been few attempts in the UK to modify the urban environment so that children's needs are met. Instead, behaviour modification approaches have predominated, in which children are seen as objects to be fitted into the adult constructed world. In place of such victim blaming approaches a new public health analysis would emphasize environmental and social influences on children's quality of life. Manipulation of the urban environment rather than the child offers the best prospects for creating cities that are healthier--for children and consequently for other vulnerable users. In this process the views of children themselves need to be heard, so that policy makers make realistic decisions about how urban environments are designed and managed.

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