GREEN SPACE RE­DUCES AG­GRE­SIVE BE­HAV­IOUR

The study found that 9-18-year-olds who lived in places with more green­ery had sig­nif­i­cantly less ag­gres­sive be­hav­iours than those liv­ing in neigh­bor­hoods with less green­ery

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Teenagers liv­ing in neigh­bour­hood with more green­ery may have less ag­gres­sive be­hav­iours, sug­gests a new study.

Re­searchers at the Uni­ver­sity of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia (USC) re­cently con­ducted the first lon­gi­tu­di­nal study to see whether green­ery sur­round­ing the home could re­duce ag­gres­sive be­hav­iours in a group of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia ado­les­cents liv­ing in ur­ban com­mu­ni­ties.

The team fol­lowed 1287 ado­les­cents, age nine to 18 years. They as­sessed the ado­les­cents’ ag­gres­sive be­hav­iours ev­ery two to three years, ask­ing par­ents if their child phys­i­cally at­tacked or threat­ened oth­ers, de­stroyed things, or ex­hib­ited other sim­i­lar be­hav­iours. The re­searchers then linked the ado­les­cents’ res­i­den­tial lo­ca­tions to satel­lite data to mea­sure the lev­els of green­ery in their neigh­bour­hoods.

The study found that nine-18-yearolds who lived in places with more green­ery had sig­nif­i­cantly less ag­gres­sive be­hav­iours than those liv­ing in neigh­bour­hoods with less green­ery. Both short-term (one to six months) and long-term (one to three years) ex­po­sure to green space within 1,000 me­ters sur­round­ing res­i­dences were associated with re­duced ag­gres­sive be­hav­iours. The be­havioural ben­e­fit of green space equated to ap­prox­i­mately two to two-and-a-half years of ado­les­cent mat­u­ra­tion. The study also found that fac­tors such as age, gen­der, race/eth­nic­ity, so­cioe­co­nomic sta­tus, par­ents’ ed­u­ca­tional back­ground, occupation, in­come level, or mar­i­tal sta­tus, and whether their mother smoked while preg­nant or was de­pressed, did not af­fect the find­ings.

Ad­di­tion­ally, these ben­e­fits ex­isted for both boys and girls of all ages and races/eth­nic­i­ties, and across pop­u­la­tions with dif­fer­ent so­cioe­co­nomic back­grounds and liv­ing in com­mu­ni­ties with dif­fer­ent neigh­bour­hood qual­ity. Re­searcher Diana Younan said that the study pro­vides new ev­i­dence that in­creas­ing neigh­bour­hood green­ery may be an ef­fec­tive al­ter­na­tive in­ter­ven­tion strat­egy for an en­vi­ron­men­tal pub­lic health ap­proach that has not been con­sid­ered yet. Based on the study’s find­ings, USC in­ves­ti­ga­tors es­ti­mate that in­creas­ing green­ery lev­els com­monly seen in ur­ban en­vi­ron­ments could re­sult in a 12 per cent de­crease in clin­i­cal cases of ag­gres­sive be­hav­iour in Cal­i­for­nia ado­les­cents liv­ing in ur­ban ar­eas. This new knowl­edge may pro­vide a strong rea­son for fur­ther stud­ies to ex­am­ine if im­prov­ing green­ery in res­i­den­tial neigh­bour­hoods will in­deed re­duce ag­gres­sive be­hav­iours in ado­les­cents. The study will ap­pear in the Jour­nal of the Amer­i­can Acad­emy of Child and Ado­les­cent Psy­chi­a­try (JAACAP).

Uni­ver­sity of South­ern Cal­i­for­nia in­ves­ti­ga­tors es­ti­mate that in­creas­ing green­ery lev­els could re­sult in a de­crease in clin­i­cal cases of ag­gres­sive be­hav­iour.

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