Youth Safety

Feeling safe outside of the home promotes trust, school attendance, and physical activity. The degree to which young people feel safe getting to and from school is critically important to their ability to stay healthy, exercise, and complete their education.

In the 2016 Monitoring the Future Survey, more black and Hispanic youth felt unsafe walking to or from school (14% among both groups) compared to white youth (9%). Decreases in the percentages of students across all racial/ethnic groups feeling unsafe may represent improvements in access to school, outdoor activities, and other factors that are key to health and well-being. This measure may also indicate improved community safety and equity.  




  • Percent who feel unsafe going to and from school by race/ethnicity: 8th, 10th and 12th graders, 2016


Public Libraries

Public libraries are critical community hubs for building a Culture of Health. They provide access to health-related information and resources, along with child and adult learning programs, safe spaces for social interaction, and places of refuge during heat waves, storms, and disasters.

According to a biennial survey conducted by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, in 2015, there were 5.3 libraries for every 100,000 people in the United States. An increase in the number of libraries would indicate improved access to resources that help residents participate in communities and social service programs, including those that promote health and well-being.  


  • Average Number of Public Libraries per 100,000 People

  • Average Number of Public Libraries per 100,000 people, by % of racial/ethnic minority population


Walkability is a key contributor to health and well-being, which allows community members to get to places safely and easily, and increases opportunities for physical activity and social connection.

The median walkability index is defined as a composite of various factors that affect mobility, including the ability to walk with ease by connected streets; how close houses are to each other; how often residents have to use their car to travel; how far to a public transit stop; and the mix of jobs requiring more or less mobility. According to analysis conducted in 2017 of data from 2011–2014 by Urban Design for Health, the nation’s score is 20.0 on a scale of 0 to 100, and 50% of the U.S. population lives in areas above this median score. An increase in the walkability median value would mean that communities are doing better to encourage walking as a safe, healthy, and convenient form of mobility; expanding access to services without relying on a vehicle; and increasing the means for residents to interact with one another.


  • Walkability score, by region

  • Walk Index Averages