Social Interventions: Neighbourhoods

Young children who live in neighbourhoods with plentiful community resources – such as parks, libraries and recreational areas – score better on tests of physical, emotional, social and intellectual development than do children from neighbourhoods with fewer civic resources.1

Healthy development is crucial for the prevention of criminal behaviour.

Neighbourhoods characterized by high rates of social problems such as alcoholism, unemployment and psychiatric disorders are more conducive to crime. Areas with many single-parent families and single males also tend to have higher crime rates.2

Housing developments which concentrate at-risk groups into one area multiply the risk factors for criminal activity. This has a particularly negative effect on youth in those areas, since those who associate with delinquent peers are more likely to be delinquent themselves.3

The concentration of poverty in certain neighbourhoods is a growing problem in Canada's large urban centres, including Toronto.4

But providing social and emotional supports to meet children's developmental needs has been proven to make a difference in such neighbourhoods.

Crime went down by 60% in two Lansing, Michigan neighbourhoods after police, local schools and social service agencies opened a neighbourhood centre and launched an extensive youth development program.5 In one area of Ottawa, calls to police went down 60% after a community centre was opened (See "Start them off right!" in Preventing Crime through Social Development Bulletin No.7).

Also see the Recreation section of this subsite for more on the importance of that aspect of community resources.

Other Social Interventions

  Addictions Treatment
  Countering Violence
  Early Childhood Education
  Positive Parenting
  Secondary Education
  Special Needs Programming


1Hanvey, Louise. The Progress of Canada's Children 2002. Ottawa: Canadian Council on Social Development, 2002.

2Waller, I. and Weiler, D. Crime Prevention through Social Development. Ottawa: Canadian Council on Social Development, 1984.

3 Ibid.

4 United Way of Greater Toronto and Canadian Council on Social Development. Poverty by Postal Code. Toronto: UW of GT & CCSD, 2004.

5Waller, I. Cutting Crime Significantly. Unpublished manuscript, 2003.