16 votes

Many Americans are convinced crime is rising in the US. Even if they're wrong, their fear is making everyone else less safe

8 comments

  1. [5]
    moonbathers
    Link
    There's a lot of this in Madison. There's a group of kids who steal cars who generally get a slap on the wrist and nothing else and it sucks, but the way the local subreddit talks about it you'd...

    Turns out, the local news may be responsible for convincing Americans that violent crime is more common than it really is. Researchers have consistently found that “if it bleeds, it leads” is a pretty accurate descriptor of the coverage that local television broadcasters and newspapers focus on. For years, rarer crimes like murders received a lot more airtime than more common crimes like physical assault. And that hasn’t changed as the crime rate has fallen.

    There's a lot of this in Madison. There's a group of kids who steal cars who generally get a slap on the wrist and nothing else and it sucks, but the way the local subreddit talks about it you'd think there were criminals waiting around every corner. In a city of a quarter million people there are on average like six murders a year but people flip out at every single one. I've heard people talking about people in gangs coming up from Chicago as if MS-13 is going to have a big operation here or something. (people from Chicago is often code for black people in the upper Midwest)

    9 votes
    1. [4]
      seizethegoddamngap
      Link Parent
      Holy crap, another Madisonian on Tildes! And yeah, it's been pretty weird seeing the sub transform since the George Floyd protests.

      Holy crap, another Madisonian on Tildes!

      And yeah, it's been pretty weird seeing the sub transform since the George Floyd protests.

      3 votes
      1. moonbathers
        Link Parent
        o/ I had to unsubscribe because of all the totally-real "I supported BLM before they tore down the statues but now I'm against everything they stand for" comments. The subreddit refuses to...

        o/

        I had to unsubscribe because of all the totally-real "I supported BLM before they tore down the statues but now I'm against everything they stand for" comments. The subreddit refuses to acknowledge how far the city has to go on racial equality and after the statue was torn down I said enough was enough and left.

        5 votes
      2. [2]
        monarda
        Link Parent
        I wonder if it's the same as the seattlewa subreddit that's been overwhelmed with trolls with new accounts? I unsubscribed.

        I wonder if it's the same as the seattlewa subreddit that's been overwhelmed with trolls with new accounts? I unsubscribed.

        1. moonbathers
          Link Parent
          I've heard a lot about city/state subreddits becoming garbage like that. Maybe because they're relatively small and easy to influence.

          I've heard a lot about city/state subreddits becoming garbage like that. Maybe because they're relatively small and easy to influence.

          2 votes
  2. post_below
    (edited )
    Link
    I often bring up how, from a strictly numbers perspective, the world is a better place than it's ever been. Almost any statistic you can think of backs this up (with notable exceptions being...

    I often bring up how, from a strictly numbers perspective, the world is a better place than it's ever been. Almost any statistic you can think of backs this up (with notable exceptions being climate change and the gulf between rich and poor). Crime is a good example, but so is quality of life, child mortality, fulfillment of basic needs, healthspan, literacy, etc..

    The most common response is knowing skepticism. Negativity bias has us all living in an imaginary world of rampant poverty and danger.

    I'm not saying we don't have big problems to solve of course, but it's fascinating how completely wrong our collective view of reality is.

    2 votes
  3. SUD0
    Link
    Stories like this? I don't blame us Americans for not feeling safe while there are reports like this going around. The article I linked is talking about the increase of number of shootings lately...

    Stories like this? I don't blame us Americans for not feeling safe while there are reports like this going around. The article I linked is talking about the increase of number of shootings lately in Columbus Ohio.

    1 vote
  4. Kuromantis
    (edited )
    Link

    Over 10 years, from 1994 to 2004, the national Survey of Economic Expectations asked respondents to do just that. People estimated their risks for a whole host of bad-news life events — robbery, burglary, job loss and losing their health insurance. But the survey didn’t just ask respondents to rate their chances: It also asked whether those things had actually happened to them in the last year.

    And that combination of questions revealed something important about American fear: We are terrible at estimating our risk of crime — much worse than we are at guessing the danger of other bad things. Across that decade, respondents put their chance of being robbed in the coming year at about 15 percent. Looking back, the actual rate of robbery was 1.2 percent. In contrast, when asked to rate their risk of upcoming job loss, people guessed it was about 14.5 percent — much closer to the actual job loss rate of 12.9 percent.

    In other words, we feel the risk of crime more acutely. We are certain crime is rising when it isn’t; convinced our risk of victimization is higher than it actually is.
    And in a summer when the president is sending federal agents to crack down on crime in major cities and local politicians are arguing over the risks of defunding the police, that disconnect matters. In an age of anxiety, crime may be one of our most misleading fears.

    Take the crime rate. In 2019, according to a survey conducted by Gallup, about 64 percent of Americans believed that there was more crime in the U.S. than there was a year ago. It’s a belief we’ve consistently held for decades now, but as you can see in this chart, we’ve been, just as consistently, very wrong.

    So why do Americans still think crime is high?

    Turns out, the local news may be responsible for convincing Americans that violent crime is more common than it really is. Researchers have consistently found that “if it bleeds, it leads” is a pretty accurate descriptor of the coverage that local television broadcasters and newspapers focus on. For years, rarer crimes like murders received a lot more airtime than more common crimes like physical assault. And that hasn’t changed as the crime rate has fallen.

    Understandably, seeing stories about violent atrocities on the news every night seems to make people afraid that the same thing could happen to them. According to one study conducted in California, consumption of local television news significantly increased people’s perceptions of risk and fear of crime.

    3 votes