Every time we turn on the news or open our social media feeds, we’re flooded with stories of shocking crimes that only seem to get worse.

It’s not surprising that fear of crime is up. 

Violent crime increased 28 percent from 2015 to 2018 per the Bureau of Justice Statistics of the US Department of Justice, Crime in America. Per the Bureau, serious violent crime is also increased.

Crime is the most popular local news issue. Weather tops the list but crime is the number one news topic followed by traffic, Pew.

With rising violent crime rates and intense interest in crime issues, it’s easy to understand why crime and violence is on the mind of most Americans.

 

Gallup-Summation

A majority of Americans describe the problem of U.S. crime as “extremely” or “very serious.” The latest 52% is up slightly from 48% in 2018.

Americans remain much more likely to describe the problem of crime in the U.S. as extremely or very serious than to say this about crime in their local area.

 

Additional Data As To Fear Of Crime

Mass Shootings: In the wake of two August mass shootings that claimed the lives of 31 people in one weekend, Americans are more worried about themselves or a family member being the victim of a mass shooting than they were after two previous massacres.

Worry About Crime: 75 percent of Americans worry about crime and violence (April, 2019), Gallup.

Fear Of Crime Was The National Top Concern in 2018

Per Gallup, 78 percent of Americans worry about crime and violence, which was the same as health care, the top concern, Fear of Crime.

Gallup asked those polled if they worried about topics a great deal or a fair amount. Crime was ranked the same as health care using a combined score.

More Fear of Crime Data

56 percent of Americans believe that crime needs to be reduced-Pew.

68 percent of Americans believe that crime is increasing-Gallup.

Two-thirds of gun owners say protection from crime is a major reason they own a gun-Pew, Crime in America.

 

Latest From Gallup (direct quotes)

A slim majority of Americans describe the problem of U.S. crime as “extremely” or “very serious.” The latest 52% is up slightly from 48% in 2018 — when this measure hit a low not seen since 2005 — but remains down from 2015-2017, when figures of seriousness ranged between 59% and 60%.

Line graph. Americans’ perceptions of the seriousness of crime in the U.S.

 

These data are from Gallup’s annual Crime poll, conducted Oct. 1-13 this year, which found that 48% describe the problem of U.S. crime as “moderately serious,” “not too serious” or “not serious at all.”

Americans remain much more likely to describe the problem of crime in the U.S. as extremely or very serious than to say this about crime in their local area (13%).

Women (58%) are more likely than men (46%) to describe U.S. crime as extremely or very serious. The gender gap shrinks when Americans are asked about crime in their local area, with 11% of men and 14% of women describing crime in their area as serious.

U.S. adults who say they live in urban areas (17%) are more likely to describe local crime as serious than are residents of suburban (8%) and rural areas (10%). These groups’ perceptions vary slightly less on crime in the U.S. at large, ranging between 48% and 55%.

 

Conclusions

Gallup offers the usual paradox as to crime statistics and fear of crime by stating that, “Perceptions of U.S. crime are frequently different from the reality of how much crime is actually occurring.”

This is a reflection of the almost continuous twenty-year plus decrease in crime up to 2015. But the collective data since then indicates that violent crime has increased considerably, Crime in America.

The American public is bombarded with endless crime stories via the media and a multitude of crime-themed television shows, podcasts, and websites. It seems that the public can’t get enough of crime-related stories.

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Culture of Fear: Violent crime is rising and Americans are afraid

 

Even Merriam-Webster, when defining the word “concern” uses crime as an example, “crimes caused concern in the neighborhood,” Merriam-Webster.

The Ring Doorbell and other home security devices are surging, Ring/Amazon. If you added concerns regarding identity theft or cybercrime, most Americans express anxiety regarding lawlessness.

How one judges the accuracy of fear of crime data and the influences of media accounts is uncertain. If you take all forms of “serious” and  “moderately/not too serious/not serious at all” categories offered by Gallup, it seems that the overwhelming majority of Americans are concerned about crime.

Culture of Fear: Violent crime is rising and Americans are afraid

 

If you combined all scores, per Gallup in 2018, 78 percent of Americans worry about crime and violence, which was the same as health care, the top concern, Fear of Crime.

An issue is the perception of crime “in their local area.” Many of us live in safe neighborhoods but frequent nearby communities that worry us.

Some of today’s politicians are running on a platform of criminal justice reform which includes a lessening of punitive sanctions of incarceration and parole and probation supervision.

There is also harsh criticism of law enforcement by politicians. Yet polling data indicates that policing is one of the most respected professions in the country, polling much higher than the majority of professions including the media and Congress.

It will be interesting if this disconnect from popular opinion carries the day as to fundamental change in America’s criminal justice system.

Source

Gallup

See More

See more articles on crime and justice at Crime in America.

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