Block Parent is a Canadian child safety and crime prevention program. Responsible adults with police clearance volunteer their homes or businesses as a temporary refuge for children, seniors, and others who may be lost, frightened, or in distress. Participating Block Parent houses or businesses display the red and white Block Parent sign to signal that they are available to assist those in need of help, and then will contact appropriate emergency services if necessary. The program aims to deter criminal activity by providing a visible reminder that members of the community are vigilant. Block Parent also educates children and adults about the program and street-proofing tips and works in collaboration with police services, school boards and other community groups with the goal of creating safer neighbourhoods.
Is the program based on research?
There is no evidence to suggest that the Block Parent program is based on research.
Has the program been independently evaluated?
There is no evidence that the Block Parent program has been independently evaluated. However, the United States has a similar program designed to help young people with immediate help called National Safe Place, which has been evaluated.
National Safe Place has been evaluated based on pre/post-assessments. They find that 84% of youth felt safer upon entering the Safe Place site, and 76% reported that it helped them begin to resolve the presenting problem (Walsh & Donaldson, 2010). Nearly all youth would use the service again and recommend it to others. However, the program blurb refers to crime reduction, and there is no evidence that Safe Place contributes to this.
Was the program rigorously tested?
There is no evidence that the Block Parent program has been rigorously tested.
Has the program evaluation been replicated?
There are no published, peer-reviewed studies that evaluate the effectiveness of the Block Parent program.
Was the program tested in Canada?
While a number of regions across Canada have adopted the program, we could find no papers demonstrating it has been empirically tested.
We are unable to confirm whether the Block Parent program is effective at creating safer communities and preventing crime as the program has not been independently evaluated.
Assessor: Hillary Peladeau, University of Western Ontario
Hillary Peladeau is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Sociology at the University of Western Ontario and a Research Associate for Can-SEBP. Her doctoral research focuses on police organizations and data collection and has been funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Council of Canada.
Reviewer: Dr. Ryan Broll, University of Guelph
Ryan Broll, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology. His areas of research interest include bullying and cyberbullying, policing, and victimization. Dr. Broll’s research is particularly focused on using quantitative and qualitative methods to understand the multiple influences on, and outcomes of, youthful deviance and victimization, with an emerging emphasis on resilience.
Walsh, S. M., & Donaldson, R. E. (2010). Invited commentary: National safe place: Meeting the immediate needs of runaway and homeless youth. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 39(5), 437-445. doi:10.1007/s10964-010-9522-9