The overarching “community concern” of Erie County residents centers on the strength of families and the need to raise children to be good people, according to just-released data from the Erie County Neighborhood Concerns Survey facilitated by the Mercyhurst University Civic Institute.
The survey asked 1,335 respondents to rank 34 community concerns, running the gamut from family life to park improvements to recreational facilities. The respondents’ top seven issues were related to children and family:
- Parents mind what their children are doing.
- Families support each other.
- Family members handle anger without violence.
- Parents talk to their children about sex, drugs and violence.
- People consider what their actions mean for their children.
- Kids have safe places to be.
- This community raises its children to be good people.
The follow-up question regarding the 34 issues asked survey takers if they were satisfied with how these issues were being handled in their neighborhoods. The satisfaction level for the highest ranked issues was extremely low.
“This clearly indicates that people are dissatisfied with the issues that mean the most to them where they live,” said Andrea Bierer, Community Action Plan coordinator for the Civic Institute.
Survey takers were especially pleased with the response rate, which shows that Erie residents are concerned about their neighborhoods and willing to speak out, Bierer said.
One of the main goals of the survey was to clarify priorities of Erie residents regarding crime, neighborhood issues, and Neighborhood Watch. Bierer said the survey was successful in shedding light on these topics.
According to the results, the top three reasons that residents are not involved in their local Neighborhood Watch are:
- I am too busy.
- Unaware of information (who to contact, when meetings are, etc.).
- Involvement conflicts with my work schedule.
These answers are encouraging to Neighborhood Watch leadership because they are issues that, for the most part, can be easily addressed, Bierer said.
Results of the survey will be used to:
- Provide a clear picture of what individual citizens in Erie County think about crime and neighborhood issues in their communities.
- Determine current awareness and participation in neighborhood watch groups.
- Identify areas in need of training and assistance for watch groups.
- Report information back to each neighborhood group from the responses in their area so that they can develop their own data-driven strategies for improving their neighborhoods and have data to support them seeking out funding for those strategies.
Besides facilitating the Erie County Neighborhood Concerns Survey, the Civic Institute analyzed and compiled the results on behalf of the Erie County Policy and Planning Council for Children and Families. The survey represents a strategy of the Community Action Plan, which is the prevention branch of the Erie Unified Youth Violence Reduction Initiative. It was completed in partnership with the Erie Neighborhood Watch Council.
View the complete survey.