23 March 2013

Gated communities are a mixed blessing

"[G]ated communities do lower the odds of experiencing a residential burglary even when controlling for housing unit factors such as tenure, income, and geographical location as well as individual characteristics such as age [and] race." . . .  [but are] at greater risk of other crimes, such as intimate partner violence, bullying, or violent assault in or near the home, because the victim is "locked in" with the offender. . . [and] at great risk from minor offences, such as vandalism committed by bored and over-controlled adolescents.
From here citing Lynn A. Addington, Callie Marie Rennison. Keeping the Barbarians Outside the Gate? Comparing Burglary Victimization in Gated and Non-Gated Communities. 30 Justice Quarterly (2013 in advance of printed edition) (as an aside, the title of the journal, which is published six times a year, is not entirely accurate).  Co-Author Callie Marie Rennison is an associate professor in the School of Public Affairs at the University of Colorado ––Denver.

Gated communities also shift opportunistic burglaries to neighboring communities and can impair first responder response times.

The study uses an expansive definition of gated communities that includes not only tradition high end suburban enclaves but also middle and low income gated communities such as gated apartment complexes, trailer parks and public housing projects.

Both the risks and benefits of gates communities, however, must be taken in perspective. Residential burglaries are rare and gated community residence is not a leading risk factor for domestic violence.

According to a 1999 study in the New England Journal of Medicine (Demetrios N. Kyriacou, Deirdre Anglin, Ellen Taliaferro, Susan Stone, Toni Tubb, Judith A. Linden, Robert Muelleman, Erik Barton, and Jess F. Kraus, "Risk Factors for Injury to Women from Domestic Violence" 341 New England Journal of Medicine 1892-1898 (December 16, 1999)) (blockquoted material not in the same sequence as in original):
Domestic violence is the most common cause of nonfatal injury to women in the United States. . . . Women at greatest risk for injury from domestic violence include those with male partners who abuse alcohol or use drugs, are unemployed or intermittently employed, have less than a high-school education, and are former husbands, estranged husbands, or former boyfriends of the women. . . The 256 intentionally injured women had a total of 434 contusions and abrasions, 89 lacerations, and 41 fractures and dislocations. In a multivariate analysis, the characteristics of the partners that were most closely associated with an increased risk of inflicting injury as a result of domestic violence were alcohol abuse (adjusted relative risk, 3.6; 95 percent confidence interval, 2.2 to 5.9); drug use (adjusted relative risk, 3.5; 95 percent confidence interval, 2.0 to 6.4); intermittent employment (adjusted relative risk, 3.1; 95 percent confidence interval, 1.1 to 8.8); recent unemployment (adjusted relative risk, 2.7; 95 percent confidence interval, 1.2 to 6.5); having less than a high-school education (adjusted relative risk, 2.5; 95 percent confidence interval, 1.4 to 4.4); and being a former husband, estranged husband, or former boyfriend (adjusted relative risk, 3.5; 95 percent confidence interval, 1.5 to 8.3).

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