Americans fear of crime, how afraid are we?

Are you afraid of crime? Do you think about becoming the victim of crime often? According to the Source book of Criminal Justice Statistics, many Americans fear becoming the victim of crime often. As I will show in this article, the fear crosses all lines– sex, race, education, age and profession. Subjects were asked if they were afraid to walk alone around their neighborhood or any area within one mile from it at night. The results may surprise you. They will clearly show that fear of walking alone at night is one of the most common fears among Americans.

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A compelling case can be made that violent crime, particularly in the period after the late 1960s, was among the most substantial domestic problems in the United States, and maybe in the nations of the West normally. Aside from the motion for black civil liberties, it is tough to think about a phenomenon that had as extensive effect on American life in the last 3rd of the 20th century. After 1965, crime increased to such levels that it scared essentially all Americans and prompted significant changes in everyday behaviors and even in way of lives. The danger of being “robbed” became an issue when Americans chose places to live as well as schools for their kids, when they selected commuter routes to work, and when they prepared their pastime. In some locales, people were fearful of leaving their residences at any time, day or night, even to go to market. In the worst of the post-1960s crime wave, Americans invested part of each day actually looking back over their shoulders.

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According to the most recent data available, only 19% of all men surveyed said they felt safe walking at night alone around their neighborhood. In stark contrast, 47% of all women surveyed said they felt perfectly fine walking alone. Looking back at the earliest numbers available, which would be from 1973, illustrates that this response is normal. In 1973, only 20% of men surveyed felt safe walking alone at night verses an astounding 59% for women.

Among white individuals, an average of 30% feel safe walking at night in their neighborhoods. Contrast that to the 41% of black individuals that felt safe. Even though there is a slight disparity among races, the numbers still show that the majority of people don’t feel safe at night. Historically, the numbers for white individuals who feel safe at night has always been 10-22% lower. The numbers only go back to 1973. One would think that the numbers might be different if the study was conducted in the 1950s and 1960s.

Education and age factors are similar. No matter what the education or age difference, the fear level is about the same. For instance, regardless of the education level obtained, roughly 68% of those with some schooling were afraid to walk at night around their neighborhood. Those individuals that were 21-49 showed the most fear. 71% of those surveyed in this group were afraid. The least afraid group was 18-20 year-old individuals. However, 59% of this group was still afraid of walking at night.

As far as professions go, those in the Clerical/Support field were less likely to be afraid at night. Just over half, 54%, stated that they were afraid to walk alone at night in around their neighborhood. Those in the Manual/Service field were most likely to be afraid– 74%. As you can see, fear of walking alone at night in one’s own proverbial backyard is a frightening event for most Americans. There’s little doubt that the media and their constant barrage of criminal sensationalism has something to do with this. However, historical data proves that it’s a condition that has existed for some time and shows no sign of vanishing anytime soon.  CWP

By John Young

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