246164 Intergenerational Transmission of Fear: The role of low income black mothers' experiences of violence and its impact on adolescent black girls' outdoor play

Monday, October 31, 2011: 5:04 PM

Janice Johnson Dias, PhD , Sociology Department, CUNY/John Jay College of Criminal Justice, New York, NY
Introduction Increased national public health attention has been placed on childhood obesity and physical inactivity. Young black girls, particularly those who reside in inner cities, are less physically active and have higher rates of obesity than their white and non-urban counterparts. Conventional wisdom suggests that the explanation for the growing rate of obesity and physical inactivity among black girls is due to black mothers' reluctance to allow their young girls outside to play, but little attention has been paid on how mothers' personal experience of violence coupled with concentrated poverty and crime influence these decisions.

Methods Taken from a larger study of black urban mothers living in a high crime neighborhood in Newark, New Jersey, this study examines the impact of mothers'(N=22) experience of sexual and neighborhood violence on their decisions about daughters' (ages 10-13) outdoor play.

Results A significant number of mothers' had adverse childhood and adult histories of sexual and physical violence (17 witnessed neighborhood violence during childhood; 22 witnessed neighborhood violence as adults; 8 physically assaulted as children; 5 sexually assaulted as a child; 20 feared sexual assault). All mothers (N=22) were fearful of neighborhood crime and thus restricted their daughters from outdoors play.

Discussion Concentrated poverty coupled with urban black mothers' history of violence may be important contributors to physical inactivity and childhood obesity among inner-city black girls.

Learning Areas:
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
• Develop an understanding of the role of mothers’ experiences of violence in parental decision-making about young girls • Describe how poverty and violence shape black childhood obesity • Discuss strategies for addressing and reducing sexual, physical and neighborhood-related violence in urban communities

Keywords: Violence, Health Behavior

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to be an author of this paper because I have extensive experience in designing, collecting and reporting research information. I have written several articles on low income black women, listed below and I am committed to making sure that their stories inform public health policies and programs. Melody Goodman, Janice Johnson Dias, Jewel Stafford. 2010. “Increasing Research Literacy in Minority Communities: CARES Fellows Training Program. Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics. (Forthcoming December issue). Johnson Dias, Janice and Steven Maynard-Moody. 2007. “For-Profit Welfare: Contract, conflicts and the performance paradox.” Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory: April (17): 189 - 211. Steinbugler, Amy, Julie Press and Janice Johnson Dias. 2006. “Operationalizing intersectionality in survey research: Gender, race, and whites’ attitudes towards affirmative action.” Gender and Society: Volume 20 (6): 805-825. Press, Julie, Janice Johnson Dias and Jay Fagan. 2005. “Welfare status and child care as obstacles to full time work for low-income mothers.” Journal of Women, Politics and Policy: Volume 27 (3/4): 59-79. James, Susan, Janice Johnson, Chitra Raghavan and Diana Woolis. 2004. “Contextualizing violence: A social network study”. Violence Against Women: (10): 991-1014. James, Susan, Janice Johnson, Chitra Raghavan, Tessa Lemos and Diana Woolis. 2003. “The violent matrix: The relationship between structural violence, interpersonal and intrapersonal violence.” American Journal of Community Psychology Special Edition on Structural Violence: March (31): 129-141. MANUSCRIPTS IN PROGRESS AND UNDER-REVIEW Tamara Leech and Janice Johnson Dias. “The race-specific relationship between excess weight and risky sexual behavior among young women” (revise and resubmit). Journal of Youth and Adolescence. Johnson Dias, Janice and David Elesh. “Structuring Performance: The Impact of State Contracts on For-Profit and Nonprofit Welfare-to-Work Programs” (revise and resubmit). Social Service Review. Johnson Dias, Janice and Chitra Raghavan. “Does Race Matter?: An Analysis of Child Welfare Investigations and Custody Awards”. (revise and resubmit) Race and Social Problems.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.