School Administrators' Perceptions of Factors That Influence Children's Active Travel to School

Authors

  • Anna E. Price PhD,

    Corresponding author
    1. Assistant Professor, (pricea5@sacredheart.edu), Department of Physical Therapy and Human Movement Science, College of Health Professions, Sacred Heart University, 5151 Park Avenue, Fairfield, CT 06825.
      Anna E. Price, Assistant Professor, (pricea5@sacredheart.edu), Department of Physical Therapy and Human Movement Science, College of Health Professions, Sacred Heart University, 5151 Park Avenue, Fairfield, CT 06825.
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  • Delores M. Pluto PhD,

    1. Youth Risk Factor Behavior Surveillance (YRBS) and School Policy Coordinator, (dpluto@ed.sc.gov), South Carolina Department of Education, 3710 Landmark Drive Suite 300, Columbia, SC 29201.
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  • Olga Ogoussan,

    1. Deceased, Department of Health Promotion, Education, & Behavior, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC 29208.
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  • Jorge A. Banda MS

    1. Graduate Research Assistant, (jabanda@gmail.com), Department of Exercise Science, University of South Carolina, 921 Assembly Street, Columbia, SC 29208.
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  • This study was supported by Cooperative Agreement Number 5-U48-DP-000051 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The findings and conclusions in this journal article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Anna E. Price, Assistant Professor, (pricea5@sacredheart.edu), Department of Physical Therapy and Human Movement Science, College of Health Professions, Sacred Heart University, 5151 Park Avenue, Fairfield, CT 06825.

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Increasing children's active travel to school may be 1 strategy for addressing the growing prevalence of obesity among school age children. Using the School Travel Survey, we examined South Carolina school district leaders' perceptions of factors that influence elementary and middle school students walking to school.

METHODS: Frequency distributions and chi-square tests were used to analyze the survey responses; open-ended questions were reviewed qualitatively for recurring topics and themes.

RESULTS: School and district leaders (N = 314) most often reported street crossing safety (54.0%) and number of sidewalks (54.0%) as priority factors that should be addressed to increase students' active travel to school, followed by distance to school (46.0%), traffic volume (42.4%), parental attitudes (27.0%), traffic speed (26.7%), neighborhood condition (24.4%), and student attitudes (10.0%). Several respondents expressed concerns about liability issues related to students' active travel to school while others reported that schools are not responsible for students' safety once students leave school grounds. Independent of their comments about liability, respondents were concerned about the safety of students while walking to school.

CONCLUSIONS: Those promoting active travel to school may benefit from addressing those factors perceived as most important by school and district leaders, including street crossing safety, number of sidewalks, and by educating school and district leaders about liability and safety issues related to students walking to school.

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