Monday, May 14, 2012

Sure, Some Things Are Worse

We had fantastic talks on Sunday.  Fantastic.  Now that I don't want to take anything away from the speakers who did a really good job, but one brother made the assertion that crimes that would have made national news in previous decades, now stay local because there is just so much crime these days.


In fact, the direct opposite is true. Writer, Lenore Skenazy, from the blog Free Range Kids has done a lot of research on the topic and has found that, "The crime rate is lower now than in the 1970s and '80s when many of us parents were playing outside."

In a post titled, "Are Kids Safer Because We Never Let Them Out Anymore?" Lenore quote this group of statistics.

All U.S. homicides: Down 40% 1992 -2005.
Juvenile homicide: Down 36% 1993 – 2005 (kids under age 14)
Juvenile homicide: Down 60% 1993 – 2005 (age 14 – 17)
Forcible rape: Down 28% 1992 – 2006
Sex Abuse Substantiations of Children, 1990 – 2005: Down 51%
Physical Abuse Substantiations of Children, 1990 – 2005: Down 46%
Juvenile Sex victimization trends, 1993 – 2003: Down 79%
These stats were collected and crunched by the Crimes Against Children Research Center, which gets its numbers from the U.S. Dept. of Justice.
So where does this good brother in my ward get the perception that horrific crime is on the rise?  From the internet.  Our ubiquitous connectedness means that we see not only horrific crimes that are committed near us (in our state or region), but that we are aware of horrific crimes committed nationwide.  

In a fascinating article from the Atlantic, I learned about how computer algorithms are set to give you more or what you like to read.  In this case, the writer clicked on a local child murder and for the next month received daily tales horrifying scenes involving (usually) the death of a child. 

This loop creates a perception that there are TONS of horrific crimes and the world is going to pot.  It creates what my communications professor (back in 1995) called "Scary World View."  And that was just with television!  My great-grandmother (whom we affectionately called, Grammie) was a perfect example of this.

Born in 1899, she was terrified to fly.  Why?  Because airplane crashes make news.  They make the news in large part because they are so RARE.  But Grammie didn't "get" that.  She didn't understand that thousands of flights take off and land everyday without problem.  That it's actually the safest mode of travel in the world.  Because that wasn't what she heard.  What she heard was when they went down.  
In her 90s, Grammie was driven from Colorado to Utah, so be in a care center near family when she could no longer care for herself.  It was a grueling, difficult trip taken on by my uncle, his girlfriend (who he later married), my granddad, his friend Bob, and a large motorhome.   The only flight Grammie ever took was the flight home to her final resting place in Loveland, Colorado to be buried beside her husband.
As logical, intelligent adults, it's important that we pop this scary-world-view bubble and realize that the world is actually a pretty safe place that we should get out and enjoy.  And, by the way, it wouldn't hurt if we shared the good news.

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