Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department

International Family and Community Studies


McDonell, Jim

Committee Member

Kimbrough-Melton , Robin

Committee Member

Korbin , Jill

Committee Member

Limber , Susan


This study utilized a unique mixed methodology to examine perceptions of neighborhood characteristics, independent mobility, and child civic engagement among 101 child-caregiver dyads. Children between the ages of 7 and 13 years completed a neighborhood walk with a member of the research team, identifying neighborhood boundaries, taking pictures of important places, and explaining their day-to-day activities. Responses from a written survey and neighborhood observations complimented the neighborhood walk data. Results revealed that spatial neighborhood and independent mobility did not vary significantly by age or gender. However, spatial neighborhood and independent mobility were positively related to several child and caregiver measures of neighborhood social content. Multivariate regression was used to assess the relationship between perceptions of neighborhood and child civic engagement. The results showed that child independent mobility, child perceptions of neighborhood safety, child perceptions of opportunities for friendship, and caregiver social embeddedness predicted child civic engagement. Of these, child perceptions of neighborhood safety was the strongest predictor of child civic engagement. The research and practical implications of these findings are discussed.

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