Children's perceptions of environment and health in two Scottish neighbourhoods

Niamh K. Shortt, Chris Ross

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

This article explores children's understanding of the role that neighbourhood plays in their health and well-being. Whilst evidence exists on the relationship between the environment and children's health, we have little knowledge of this from the perspective of children themselves. Children's experiences are all too frequently researched through the eyes of adults. Following a Rights of the Child framework, respecting children's views and giving them due weight, this paper reports from a project that worked with children from two relatively deprived urban neighbourhoods in Scotland. Using this framework, the children themselves were the researchers who designed the themes, decided upon the methods, conducted the research and analysed the resulting data. Using focus groups, visual mapping and community walks the children explored their local neighbourhoods and the findings reveal features of the environment that the children perceive as important for their health and well-being. The children selected three themes to explore in the research: safety, littering, and family and friends, through which they elicit their experiences, feelings and attitudes towards the environment and their well-being. The paper reveals that not only do the children have a deep understanding of the link between environment and health, but that they also understand how aspects of disadvantage, including place-based stigma, can limit their social participation and inclusion in society. We conclude with recommendations made by the children themselves, ranging from access to affordable activities, improved open spaces, ‘support not stigma’ and the need to be heard in local decision making.
Original languageEnglish
Article number114186
JournalSocial Science & Medicine
Early online date29 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2021


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