Skateparks and crime : correlations and causation

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Wright, Bryan
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Skateparks are being constructed at an unprecedented rate across the United States. Though many communities are convinced that they need a skatepark, few people want it in their backyard. One of the many concerns cited by potential neighbors is that the skatepark will become a haven for crime. Local skatepark advocates strongly disagree, believing that a skatepark will reduce crime by "keeping kids off the street". While both parties insist that their view is correct, no research has been done on the subject. The purpose of this study is to determine if any correlation exists, positive or negative, with three major skateparks. The study sites are: FDR Skatepark in Philadelphia, Denver Skatepark in Denver, and Burnside Skatepark in Portland. To determine the quantity of crime, multiple forms of research are conducted. Objective forms of data, such as numerical crime statistics and GIS based crime maps, are used to determine recorded crime. The crime maps and statistics are examined on neighborhood and site scales to provide context for the crimes that occur at the site. The quantitative data is provided using case study methodology, including interviews and site visits. Multiple interviews and twenty hours of direct observation provide first-hand accounts of unreported crime at the study sites. Insights into causation are provided through comparison of the sites to three different sociological theories. These theories include Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design by Ray Jeffery (1977), Defensible Space by Oscar Newman (1976), and Broken Windows by James Wilson and George Kelling (1982). Interviews with local skateboarders interested parties support and influence the presented theories of causation. The use of objective and subjective research methodologies creates a two pronged approach. Often the data from the two methodologies support each other, providing a more accurate view of total crime. This unusual approach allows for crime, both reported and unreported, to be expressed. This study not only addresses correlations between skateparks and crime, but provides a methodological framework for future studies attempting to combine objective and subjective data sources.

Sun Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2006