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Research Project: Childhood Obesity Prevention

Location: Children's Nutrition Research Center

Title: A child-centered scale of informal social control for Latino parents of preschool-age children: Development and validation

Author
item Cerin, Ester - University Of Hong Kong
item O'connor, Teresia - Children'S Nutrition Research Center (CNRC)
item Mendoza, Jason - University Of Washington
item Thompson, Deborah - Debbe
item Lee, Rebecca - Arizona State University
item Hughes, Sheryl - Children'S Nutrition Research Center (CNRC)
item Baranowski, Tom - Children'S Nutrition Research Center (CNRC)

Submitted to: Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/28/2015
Publication Date: 11/1/2015
Citation: Cerin, E., O'Connor, T.M., Mendoza, J.A., Thompson, D.J., Lee, R.E., Hughes, S.O., Baranowski, T. 2015. A child-centered scale of informal social control for Latino parents of preschool-age children: Development and validation. Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences. 37(4):541-559.

Interpretive Summary: Healthy amounts of physical activity help keep children fit and protect them from becoming obese or developing chronic diseases later in life. Previous research has shown that spending time outdoors playing is associated with greater physical activity levels among young children. However, there are many variables that can influence how much time children are allowed or encouraged to be outdoors. Some important variables that may influence time allowed for outdoor play include parent' perceptions of the traffic and crime safety in their neighborhood and a collective value of the neighborhood to intervene for the good of the community. The former has not been extensively explored for families with Latino preschool children. As part of a larger study to assess the influence of parents and the neighborhood in which families reside on Latino preschool children's physical activity, we developed a new survey tool for parents to measure "informal social control" in regards of their child's outdoor time. The survey was based on data collected from focus groups with Latino parents of preschool children. Another sample of 240 parents completed the new survey and advanced statistical tests assessed the survey tool and compared parent responses to other data collected for the larger study. We found two important concepts emerged within informal social control: neighborhood activism and personal involvement. These two concepts were mostly associated with parent's perceptions of other neighborhood characteristics in the expected direction (community cohesion, traffic safety, signs of physical and social disorder, stranger danger and traffic hazards). The survey tool was found to have good reliability by test–retest and appropriate validity for measuring informal social control of neighborhoods. It is appropriate for use in future studies with Latino families who have preschool aged children, but needs to also be tested in other populations in the future.

Technical Abstract: Perceived neighborhood informal social control may determine whether parents allow their young children to be physically active in the neighborhood. We developed and validated a scale of neighborhood child-centered informal social control appropriate for Latino parents of preschool-age children. The scale was administered to 240 Latino parents, mainly mothers, recruited from neighborhoods cross-stratified by objectively measured crime and traffic safety. Participants completed measures of community cohesion, perceived signs of physical and social disorder, traffic safety and hazards, and perceived stranger danger. A subsample was reassessed 1 week later to determine test-retest reliability. Confirmatory factor analyses (CFAs) were conducted to examine the fit of the data to a priori measurement models. Construct validity was assessed by estimating the associations of the scale with the other measures. The scale showed good test-retest reliability, and factorial and construct validity. The scale needs to be cross-validated on other samples and Latino fathers.