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 2019 Monitoring the Future survey, more Black youth (15%) and Hispanic/Latinx youth (15%) felt unsafe walking to or from school compared to White youth (10%). This represents a decrease in feeling unsafe—for Black youth (down from 17% in 2017) and decrease for Hispanic/Latinx youth (down from 17% in 2017), though an increase for White youth from 8% in 2017 to 10% in 2019. 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 signal improved community safety and equity.

SOURCE: Monitoring the Future Survey, National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2019

  • U.S. YOUTH WHO REPORT FEELING UNSAFE GOING TO AND FROM SCHOOL, BY RACE/ETHNICITY

  • U.S. YOUTH WHO REPORT FEELING UNSAFE GOING TO AND FROM SCHOOL, BY GENDER

Public Libraries

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

According to a biennial survey conducted by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, in 2018, there were 5.2 libraries for every 100,000 people in the United States, very similar to the rate of 5.3 in 2016. There is a much smaller average number of libraries in higher minority communities (3.5 libraries for every 100,000 people in places with 42% or more minority residents versus 11 libraries for every 100,000 people in places with less than 7% minority residents). 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. 

SOURCE: American Community Survey, U.S. Census Bureau, 2015-2019; Public Libraries Survey, Institute of Museum and Library Services, 2018


  • Average Number of U.S Public Libraries, per 100,000 People

  • AVERAGE NUMBER OF U.S. PUBLIC LIBRARIES PER 100,000 PEOPLE, BY % OF RACIAL/ETHNIC MINORITY POPULATION

Walkability

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 national walkability index is defined as a composite of various factors that affect mobility, including how close houses and apartments are to each other; how connected or grid-like the streets are; the available mix of nearby destinations; the ease of access to public transit; and how dependent residents are on their car to travel. According to analysis conducted in 2021, using data from 2019 developed by Urban Design 4 Health, the nation’s median score is 21 on a scale of 1 to 100, and 50% of the U.S. population lives in areas above this score. Between 2013 and 2019, the nation's median score increased by 7.2%. This indicates increased urbanization and the formation of more walkable environments nationwide. The increase signifies a general trend whereby some communities are changing in ways that encourage walking as a safe, healthy, and convenient form of mobility for all ages and abilities. An increase in the walkability median value indicates that communities are doing better to encourage walking as a safe, healthy, and convenient form of mobility; expanding access to services that does not require a vehicle; and increasing the means for residents to interact with one another.

For more information and visualizations of the geographic distribution of the National Walkability Index, please see https://npham.ud4htools.com/NWI/.

SOURCE: Urban Design 4 Health, Inc., 2021

  • U.S. WALKABILITY MEDIAN VALUE, BY REGION

  • U.S. WALKABILITY MEDIAN VALUE, BY GEOGRAPHY