Increasing Neighborhood Safety2022-02-10T12:18:09-08:00

Make our communities healthy and violence-free

Community members cannot thrive or enjoy good health unless they are safe. Violence is a public health issue. Violence and fear of violence increase the risk of poor health outcomes and also undermine the community supports and conditions that would otherwise promote health and well-being.1

Violence in its many forms, such as child abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault, gang violence, and gun violence, is a leading cause of injury, disability, and premature death. It impacts the health of individuals, families, and communities, and can be a barrier to healthy eating and active living, community cohesion, and community economic development.2

Feeling unsafe may lead people to avoid walking, biking, or taking public transportation; have fewer interactions with neighbors; keep their children from playing outside; and, stay indoors rather than seek out goods and services they need such as groceries, or medical appointments.3 Safe communities that provide opportunities to be active and eat well support people in making healthy choices.

Indicator Progress

In 2007 (baseline year), 92.4% of Californians adults reported feeling safe in their neighborhoods most or all of the time. The most recent data available show 88.7% (2018). We hope to reach a target of 96.0% or higher by 2022.

More Data about Neighborhood Safety



Current Rate




Indicator Highlights

An image of four teenage girls walking down the street together

Four girls walking along the street.

Walk With Friends

The Health Education Council’s (HEC) HEAL Zone is an initiative that aims to increase healthy eating and enable active living for the more than 13,000 residents living in the South Sacramento Valley Hi neighborhood. The goals of the innovation are to decrease calorie consumption, increase fresh fruit and vegetable consumption, increase physical activity in community settings, and increase physical activity in institutional settings. HEC staff and community partners identified Valley Hi Park as a nexus for increased physical activity, and have begun engaging the community to increase positive park activity, advocate for park and street improvements, and deter negative and violent activity. Read more »

Violence Causes Trauma

Violent injury and the threat of violence cause chronic stress which can lead to mental health problems and chronic physical illnesses.4

Feel Unsafe, Less Active

People who described their neighborhood as not at all safe were more likely to be physically inactive than those describing their neighborhood as extremely safe.5

4x More Likely Overweight

Children of parents who perceived their neighborhood as unsafe were four times more likely to be overweight than those of parents who perceived their neighborhood as safe.5

Community Violence is Preventable

Community engagement allows community members to voice their concerns and be involved in the decision making processes that impact their own neighborhoods.6, 7, 8, 9

Building healthy and safe communities requires collaboration between many partners, including transportation, housing, education, criminal justice, employment, and economic development.10

Disparities & Trends

Exposure to violence has been linked to increased incidence or worsening of many chronic health conditions; including asthma, heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes.4

Safety concerns can negatively affect decisions about healthy behaviors, including walking or playing outdoors and purchasing patterns, limiting access to healthy food.

Violence and fear of violence are major factors that undermine health and worsen health disparities.6

Community violence especially affects young people and people of color, and increases the risk of other poor health outcomes.7

Inequities in exposure: Community safety also has different impacts on girls and women who, start reporting regular incidents of street harassment at very young ages.8

The level of safety someone feels changes from community to community and even from block to block because safety is not evenly distributed.1

Communities where there are many risk factors (e.g., high poverty, unemployment, and crime) are more likely to experience multiple forms of violence.1

The devastating social impacts of violence include lower academic achievement, lower employment productivity, and the breakdown of connections among families and communities.1

Research has shown that strong social networks correspond with significantly lower rates of homicide and alcohol and drug use9

Percent of Adults Who Report They Feel Safe in Their Neighborhoods All or Most of the Time, Over Time

Percent of Adults Who Report They Feel Safe in Their Neighborhoods All or Most of the Time, by Demographic Category

Percent of Adults Who Report They Feel Safe in Their Neighborhoods All or Most of the Time, by County


Indicator: Percent of adults who report they feel safe in their neighborhoods all or most of the time

Brief Description: Adults were asked whether they felt safe in their neighborhoods. Answers were divided between “Felt safe all or most of the time” and “Didn’t feel safe.”

Data Limitations: Asked of California’s residential population (adults, teens, and children), administered in English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Tagalog, and Vietnamese. Does not include those living in group quarters or homeless persons.

Indicator Source: California Health Interview Survey (CHIS) is a biennial population-based, omnibus health survey of California. It is the largest telephone survey in California and the largest state health survey in the country. Note that this indicator uses weighted data.

Data Sharing Agreement: Researchers can access a variety of publicly available CHIS data files and web tools. These CHIS data products include downloadable data sets and easy-to-read PDF documents. In addition, local county health departments can request data files specific to their county. However, researchers can apply to analyze confidential CHIS data, data sensitive variables and/or geo-coded data through the CHIS Data Access Center (DAC). Access to confidential CHIS data requires a research application, review, and approval.

Indicator Calculation Methodology:

Data Collection Methodology:

Program URL Link

1California Endowment. (2015, February). Community Safety: A Building Block for Community Health . The Prevention Institute. From

2Prevention Institute . (2015, March). Safety in All Policies: Multi-Sector Actions for a Safer California . Retrieved January 8, 2016, from

3Center for Disease Control and Prevention . (August 2014). Connecting the Dots: An Overview of the Links among Multiple Forms of Violence. The Prevention Institute.

4Michelle Liberman, S. Z. (2015). Safe Routes to School. Oakland, CA: Safe Routes to Shool National Partnership. From

5 Prevention Institute. (2011, May). Fact Sheets: Links Between Violence and Chronic Diseases, Mental Illness and Poor Learning. Retrieved November 17, 2015, from www.preventioninstitute.org

6Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . (2014, October 22). Injury Prevention & Control : Division of Violence Prevention . Retrieved January 8, 2016, from

7Schweig, S. (2014, March). Healthy Communities May Make Safe Communities: Public Health Approaches to Violence Prevention. Retrieved January 8, 2016, from

8Agency for Toxic Substances and Abuse Registry . (2015, June 25). Models and Frameworks for the Practice of Community Engagement. Retrieved January 16, 2016, from

9 UNITY. (n.d.). Multi-Sector Collaboration. Retrieved January 8, 2016, from

10California Strategic Growth Council. (n.d.). California Health in All Polices Task Force. Retrieved December 11, 2015, from

11Prevention Institute. (2011, September). Fact Sheet: Links Between Violence and Health Equity. Retrieved November 17, 2015, from

12Prevention Institute. (2010, May ). Addressing the Intersection: Preventing Violence and Promoting Healthy Eating and Active Living. Retrieved November 17, 2015, from www.preventioninstitute.org

13Office of Health Equity. (2015, August). Portrait of Promise: California Statewide Plan to Promote Health Equity and Mental Health Equity. California Department of Public Health.

14Lieberman, M., & Zimmerman, S. (n.d.). Taking Back the Streets & Sidewalks. Retrieved December 11, 2015, from Back-the-Streets-and-Sidewalks.pdf

Stories & Solutions

Strengthening Community – Reducing Violence: Oakland: Sobrante Park

This neighborhood initiative engages residents from Sobrante Park in community-strengthening efforts such as neighbor-to-neighbor bartering and youth economic development programs. Evaluation shows a more than 40-percent reduction in Sobrante Park’s violent crime between 2004 and 2007, even as overall rates of violent crime in Oakland increased. 4 Community engagement also [...]

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