Community Strengths & Child Development

The Community-Strengths (C-STRENGTHS) Longitudinal Neighborhood Study provides assessments of neighborhood-level factors such as poverty, disorder, health and collective efficacy for each of the families participating in the Environmental Risk (E-Risk) Longitudinal Twin Study.

The E-Risk Study is an ongoing study of 2,232 children (monozygotic and dizygotic same-sex twins) and their families. E-Risk children were assessed prospectively at ages 5, 7, 10, and 12 via home visits and will be followed through adolescence. The E-Risk Study is directed by Louise Arseneault, Terrie Moffitt and Avshalom Caspi and was designed to include the best measures of environmental risk within a genetically informative study.

This study is novel in that provides a genes-to-geography view of the factors influencing children’s health and behavior. In addition to obtaining ratings of the families’ local neighborhoods from the E-Risk Study children and their mothers, we measured neighborhood context in the following ways:

1. Geo-coding of neighborhood level socio-economic and status and health using ACORN and HealthACORN ratings for each neighborhood. These ratings are used to capture levels of poverty and income inequality in the areas surrounding the study member’s homes and schools. Indicators of the overall health of the neighborhoods are also available.

2. Surveys of residents living on the same street or in the same apartment building of the E-Risk families when the children were 8 years old, and again when they were 12 years of age to capture neighborhood-level social processes such as social cohesion, collective efficacy, and disorder.

3. Systematic Social Observation Using Google Street View to measure levels of physical disorder, decay and the presence of child friendly features and amenities.

4. Street-level crime obtained from the UK Police databases that captures crimes that occur in a 1 mile radius of the study members homes each month.

5. Green space assessments to document the presence of parks, play areas and the amount of green space surrounding the homes of E-Risk Study member families.

Collaborators and mentors on the C-STRENGTHS Study include: E-Risk PI’s, Terrie Moffitt, Avshalom Caspi and Louise Arseneault, as well as to William T. Grant Mentors Robert Sampson and Clyde Hertzman.

The E-Risk Study is funded by the Medical Research Council (UKMRC grants G1002190 and G9806489). Additional support was provided by ESRC grant RES-177-25-0013, NICHD grant HD061298, and by funds from the Jacobs Foundation, the British Academy, and the Nuffield Foundation. The Community Strengths project is funded in part by Google and the William T. Grant Foundation.

Publications from the Community Strengths Study:

Odgers, CL., Caspi, A., Russell, MA., Sampson, RJ., Arseneault, L and Moffitt, TE. (2012). Supportive parenting mediates neighborhood socioeconomic disparities in children’s antisocial behavior from ages 5 to 12. Development and Psychopathology, 24, 705-21.

Odgers, CL., Caspi, A., Bates, CJ., Sampson, RJ and Moffitt, TE. (2012). Systematic social observation of children’s neighborhoods using Google Street View: A reliable and cost effective method. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 53, 1009-1017.

Odgers, CL, Moffitt, TE., Tach, L., Sampson, R., Taylor, A., Matthews, CL. & Caspi, A. (2009). The protective effects of neighborhood collective efficacy on British children growing up in deprivation: A developmental analysisDevelopmental Psychology, 45, 942-957.