Survey Design for TANF Caseload Project: Summary Report and Recommendations. Common Measures Used, Pros and Cons


Measures of crime varied greatly among the survey instruments. Many surveys did not address the topic at all. Only the WES, Illinois, Youth Fair Chance Community, and Iowa Child Impact surveys contained questions on neighborhoods and crime. The WES contained the most extensive battery of questions about neighborhood problems. Questions asked whether respondents had problems in their neighborhood with vandalism, prostitution, sexual assaults, rapes, muggings, gangs, drug dealing, groups of youth hanging out, and police taking a long time to come when called. Additional questions included respondent perceptions of neighborhood safety, whether the respondent would move from the neighborhood if he or she could, and whether the respondent had any serious problems with neighbors in the past year.

The Illinois and Youth Fair Chance Community surveys each contained a similar, four-question scale that asked the respondent to rate the magnitude of the problem in his or her neighborhood with unemployment, run-down buildings and yards, crime, assaults and burglaries, and drug use. The surveys also contained the same questions on perceptions of safety in walking alone within an eight-block vicinity of home, feeling safe at home at night, and whether the neighborhood is a safe place for children to play.

The Iowa Child Impact Survey contained a list of questions to be answered by the interviewer at the end of the survey, based on his or her observations of the neighborhood. Among the questions was whether the interviewer observed groups of youths hanging out in public, vandalism, vacant lots, abandoned or boarded-up houses, and litter or garbage on the streets.

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