More off-premise alcohol outlets can lead to more injuries among neighborhood children

September 4, 2008

Childhood injuries constitute a serious issue in the United States. In 2001, there were 12,249 deaths among children ages one to 14: injuries were the leading cause, accounting for 33.2 percent of all deaths for children ages one to four, and 39.4 percent of all deaths for children ages five to 14. A new study has found that numerous off-premise alcohol outlets in neighborhoods can reduce overall guardianship of children's activities, leading to increased injuries.

Results will be published in the November issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research and are currently available at Early View.

"Neighborhood areas with high levels of social disorganization can make the children who live there more vulnerable to injury in a number of ways," explained Bridget Freisthler, assistant professor in the department of social welfare at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and affiliated research scientist at the Prevention Research Center, Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (PRC/PIRE). This research was a joint project between UCLA and PRC/PIRE.

"Impoverished and disorganized neighborhoods may present more physically dangerous environments," said Freisthler. "Limited social capital restricts their ability to respond to social problems that might endanger children's health and well being. Reduced levels of social control may facilitate risky behaviors, such as playing in dangerous streets or vacant buildings. And, areas that have fewer adults available to monitor and supervise children's activities may further exacerbate problem behaviors."

"One's neighborhood environment determines the number and type of risks a resident of a particular neighborhood will be exposed to," agreed Richard Scribner, D'Angelo Professor of Alcohol Research at the Louisiana State University School of Public Health. "This study supports the conceptual model that views the neighborhood environment as an essential component in contributing to population health."

Freisthler and her colleagues analyzed aggregate data collected for the year 2000 on populations and environments in 1,646 California zip code areas, examining connections with numbers of hospital discharges for childhood injuries from accidents and assaults, and injuries related to child abuse.

They found that neighborhoods with a higher density of off-premise alcohol outlets – such as liquor stores and grocery stores that sell alcohol – had more injuries among children.

"Those neighborhoods with an already weakened structure may have a limited ability to deal with the negative effects related to high densities of alcohol outlets in their community," explained Freisthler. "First, greater densities of off-premise alcohol outlets may increase the frequency of drinking among parents at home, undermining their ability to adequately supervise their children's activities. Second, greater densities may increase the number of people who travel in and out of the neighborhood to shop or dine at restaurants, making it more difficult for residents to know who lives in the area and who is just conducting business there. Thus, other adults in the area may be less likely to intervene when they see unsupervised children playing."

"The most surprising outcome was the association with percent [of African-American residents,]" added Scribner. "It is also the most difficult to interpret. There is increasing interest in the role of black residential segregation in terms of neighborhood risk because a white and a black neighborhood with similar measured socioeconomic conditions may be very different due to environmental risks."

"This study shows that the effects of high concentrations of alcohol outlets are more far reaching than previously thought," said Freisthler. "Specific findings indicate that costs associated with injuries among children could be reduced if outlet densities were more carefully controlled. It is important to emphasize that these injuries are only one measurable outcome of the kind of lack of supervision and support that seems to occur in these disordered neighborhoods with high alcohol-outlet densities."

"Given the difficulty in [implementing] policies to modify neighborhood environments in an effort to address population health, it is a sad fact that outcomes like child abuse and child assault are more likely to get the attention of policymakers," noted Scribner. "Children are perceived as innocent and therefore it is unjust for them to be exposed to greater risk. In this vein, the study may [encourage] policymakers to experiment with targeting the neighborhood environment to address problems like child abuse, accidents, and assault."

Freisthler certainly hopes her findings will lead in that direction. "Decisions about licensing and location of alcohol outlets have important ramifications," she said. "They affect the quality of life, the relationships among neighbors, levels of crime, and the safety of all of us. Obviously, we want policy makers to pay attention to these findings. But they are also important for average citizens to understand."

"This research clearly suggests it [really] does take a village to keep our children safe," added Scribner. "So, get involved in your neighborhood. Develop informal social ties with neighbors. Make sure [that businesses] like alcohol outlets are accountable to the residents. Keep your eyes on the street. Sit on the front porch or take walks and get to know your neighborhood."

Source: Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research

Explore further: Neighborhood bar density linked to intimate partner violence-related visits to emergency department

Related Stories

Neighborhood bar density linked to intimate partner violence-related visits to emergency department

February 15, 2012
Intimate partner violence (IPV) has been linked to heavy drinking, substance use by one or both partners, and living in a neighborhood characterized by poverty and social disadvantage. Alcohol outlet density has been linked ...

One in nine ER patients with injuries caused by violence will visit ER again within two years

September 15, 2016
Approximately one in nine people sent to Florida emergency rooms (ERs) for injuries caused by acts of intentional violence – including shootings, stabbings, assaults, etc. – in 2010 ended up being violently injured again ...

Cancer and injuries more likely in people with serious mental illness

July 18, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- People with serious mental illness —schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and disabling depression — are 2.6 times more likely to develop cancer than the general population, new Johns Hopkins research ...

JAMA Internal Medicine publishes more articles on firearm violence

January 3, 2017
JAMA Internal Medicine is publishing another collection of articles on firearm violence, including two original investigations, two commentaries and an editorial. JAMA also is publishing a research letter on gun violence ...

Pilot study finds ER patients drinking high-octane beer

August 14, 2013
Budweiser, Steel Reserve, Colt 45, Bud Ice and Bud Light – were consumed in the highest quantities by emergency room patients, according to a new pilot study from researchers at The Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth ...

Hospital ERs play vital role in reducing youth violence in urban communities

June 17, 2016
Thirty minutes of counseling during an emergency room visit can decrease a young person's involvement in future violent behaviors, researchers at the University of Michigan have found.

Recommended for you

Male contraceptive compound stops sperm without affecting hormones

April 20, 2018
A new study published today in the journal PLOS ONE details how a compound called EP055 binds to sperm proteins to significantly slow the overall mobility of the sperm without affecting hormones, making EP055 a potential ...

A dose of empathy may support patients in pain

April 20, 2018
Research published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine suggests that empathic, positive messages from doctors may be of small benefit to patients suffering from pain, and improve their satisfaction about the care ...

New device to help patients with rare disease access life-saving treatment

April 19, 2018
Patients with a rare medical condition can receive life-saving treatment at the touch of a button thanks to a new device developed by scientists.

Age affects how we predict and respond to stress at home

April 19, 2018
A recent study finds that older adults are better than younger adults at anticipating stressful events at home - but older adults are not as good at using those predictions to reduce the adverse impacts of the stress.

Drinking may worsen hearing loss at loud concerts

April 19, 2018
(HealthDay)—High-decibel music blasting at big concert venues is a known cause of short-term hearing loss. But new research suggests drinking doesn't help matters, with drunk concertgoers actually moving closer to loudspeakers.

Low-cost anti-hookworm drug boosts female farmers' physical fitness

April 19, 2018
Impoverished female farm workers infected with intestinal parasites known as hookworms saw significant improvements in physical fitness when they were treated with a low-cost deworming drug. The benefits were seen even in ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.