Housing and Safety with Regard to Children

Perceptions concerning the physical safety provided by the house and its surroundings with regard to children tend to mirror attitudes concerning the relative safety of the world outside the home versus the world inside it. In all cases the inside of the house is reported to be safer than the outside environment, but differential perceptions concerning relative safety come into play. It is necessary to take a closer look at how Palestinians evaluate the adequacy of their own homes and the security offered by its external surroundings.

Figure 3.6 Availability of safe playing areas for children 12 years or less inside and outside house in percentage of households by locality

It is only in Arab Jerusalem (figure 3.6) that a majority of households report that the local environment provides safe playing areas for children. Notably, West Bank camp residents find their houses some two times safer than Gaza camp residents. One reason could be that there is a clear correlation between the human density of the house and perceptions concerning the safety the house affords young children, i.e. the more crowded, the less safe (table 3.12).

Table 3.12 Availability of safe playing areas inside house by density of house
AvailableNot available
High density4753
Middle density7327
Low density8218

However, perceptions concerning children's security and the areas in which they are protected from injury, do not necessarily correspond to the realities of children's injury. Respondents were asked if any of the children in the household 12 years of age or younger had been seriously injured during the previous two months. Some 17% of households state that they have children who had been so injured, the fewest injuries occurring in Jerusalem (9% of households), where average household size is in any case smaller, and the most in the refugee camps (19% of households). The overwhelming majority of these children had been injured inside the home. Table 3.13 refers only to those households with children who had been seriously injured in the two months prior to the survey period and is broken down on the regional level with both West Bank and Gaza camps placed into a separate category.

Table 3.13 Where was the child injured in percentage of households by region
GazaWest BankArab JerusalemCamps
Inside house667868%78
Outside house1916229
Donít know1561113

Household density does seem to be a significant contributory factor in children's injuries, but in a somewhat indeterminant manner. Whereas, 22% of high density households reported children injured in the two month period, only 13% of families living in low density household report injured children. However, it is uncertain whether household density contributes directly, as one might expect, to increased injuries to children inside the house.

Table 3.14 The place of child's injury by density of household
Inside homeOutside homeDon't know
High density741214
Middle density74188
Low density8785

A certain correlation does exist, but it relates not so much to children's injuries as to the respondent's knowledge concerning where the injury has taken place. Respondents from overcrowded households seem to have less awareness of what happens to the household's children. Instead of overcrowding per se, children's accidents inside the house seem much more closely related to poverty. In general, the poorest third of Palestinian households is twice as likely as the richest third to have children who had been injured either inside or outside the house. Controlling for this factor, indoor accident rates are some 70% higher among the poorest third of Palestinian households compared to the richest third.


al@mashriq                       960715