The Leadership Conference is working diligently to see that Tom Perez is confirmed as U.S. Secretary of Labor. Perez is an eminently qualified public servant and consensus builder who has dedicated his career to ensuring that all individuals are treated fairly and have the opportunity to succeed. He has served with integrity and distinction at the local, state and national level, compiling an outstanding record of achievement.
Moving to Opportunity Provides Safe Haven for Girls
Feature Story by Ellie Dehghan - 12/8/2006
Adolescent girls experience a dramatic reduction in “female fear” after relocating to low-poverty neighborhoods, says a new study by the Urban Institute.
The new study, entitled “Girls in the Hood,” was conducted by Susan J. Popkin, principal research associate at the Urban Institute’s Metropolitan Housing & Communities Policy Center, in order to determine whether or not the federal housing program known as Moving to Opportunity (MTO) had an effect on the concept of “female fear.”
MTO is a program that combines government subsidies along with special relocation counseling and search assistance, to ease and promote the transition from high to low poverty areas.
The study uses the definition of “female fear” as defined in the book, The Female Fear. “Female fear” is the fear of being sexually, verbally or physically harassed or victimized, or of being sexually exploited.
“Girls in the Hood” was a study conducted in three cities – New York, Boston, and Los Angeles – between six and ten years after MTO had moved the families.
While much research has been done on the effects of the high poverty communities on adolescents, Popkin said that previous research focused on the issues regarding boys, rather than girls.
Popkin’s study shows that while growing up in poverty-ridden areas can have profound effects on adolescents of both genders – including poor physical and mental health, delinquency, and risky behavior – the damage to girls can be worse.
Girls growing up in poverty-ridden areas are often subject to sexual harassment, early sexual initiation, pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, abuse and sexual violence; problems that boys simply do not have to worry about, according to the study.
However, according to “Girls in the Hood,” the transition out of poverty-ridden areas has largely been a success for girls. They have experienced better mental health and engaged in less risky behavior.
“Compared with their counterparts still living in high-poverty neighborhoods, [those who took part in MTO] reported less harassment from men and boys, less pressure to engage in sexual behavior, and, as a result, said they were less fearful,” cites “Girls in the ‘Hood: Evidence on the Impact of Safety,” an article on the study co-written by Popkin.
While “Girls in the ‘Hood” answers some serious questions and sheds light upon the often overlooked issue of the female adolescent growing up in high poverty areas, Popkin states that there is much more to be answered.
Although there are no clear results on the long term effects of the program, the study suggests that it may lead to better parenting as well as a higher rate of educational and employment success. Popkin said that more assistance be given to poor families, through vouchers, counseling and support, in order to promote moving to lower poverty communities.
Most importantly, Popkin said that the problems in inner-city neighborhoods must be addressed. She suggests creating safe havens through the creation of after school programs for girls in order to end destructive behavior and attitudes.
The study states that focus must be placed on helping families to continue to live in low-poverty neighborhoods, as much of the benefits of MTO can be lost once families move back to high-poverty communities.