Murder Rate Bumped Off (of List of Leading Death Causes)

Hi Folks! This just in: Homicide has dropped off the Top 15 causes of death in America. It’s been replaced by something called, “Pneumonitis,” an illness caused by people accidentally breathing food or liquid into their lungs — a problem most prevalent in folks over 75. In other words, it is one of the panoply of things that can finally kill us if we live a long, un-murdered life.

There’s good news at the other end of the spectrum, too: Infant mortality has dropped to an all-time low of 6.14 deaths per 1000 births. Read that again: all time low.

Even the death rate from accidents has gone down, according to the Centers for Disease Control, which compiled all these stats.

This is the first time in 45 years that homicide is not among that top 15 causes of death in America. Put in Free-Range Kids terms: The murder rate was higher when most of us parents were growing up than it is now, for our kids. And since I know someone will say, “So what? That just means kids are safer because we are keeping them inside, or GPS’ing them, or making sure they are supervised at all times!” let me quickly note that murder is down among adults, too, and it’s not because we are helicoptering them. Moreover, the murder rate is lower than it has been for almost two generations, which means it is lower now than even before parents began hovering. So I don’t see this study as an endorsement of overprotection.

No, I see it as a reality check: Our parents didn’t feel guilty or terrified when they let us play outside and the murder rate was higher. Today’s kids deserve the even-less-risky chance to enjoy a Free-Range childhood. — L.

M'am! Don't you realize the murder rate has gone down?

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26 Responses to Murder Rate Bumped Off (of List of Leading Death Causes)

  1. Kitlope January 16, 2012 at 3:37 am #

    I read this statistic too the other day. Wonderful news! The problem is telling hyperparents this stat because they refuse to believe it… so they can continue hovering over their children.

    I can already see a backlash to the heli-parent though. Stories are on the local news and more and more articles are appearing about the future reprecussions of raising kids that have never made a decision on their own.

  2. North of 49 January 16, 2012 at 4:56 am #

    What is really getting my goat locally is a man was deemed “innocent” of all charges because the video the prosecution used in the case does not show him doing what these (3?4?) girls, all about 11 or 12, describe him doing to them at the local pool. If it isn’t OMG your baby’s gonna get MURDERED! It is OMG your baby is gonna get (insert perverted action here)!

    The lynch mob has been in full force ever since he was deemed innocent. They want the prosecution to appeal it. But because there isn’t enough evidence, the prosecution can’t, so they’ve targeted a day care center, saying that there’s perverts working there.

    What is says to me is that if the mob can’t get their proverbial hanging, they’ll just fly off after someone else. It also says to me that any man not in accompaniment of a woman, needs to stay at least 10 feet away from any and all children under legal age or the same thing could happen to them.

    The judge himself said that since the video shows nothing, that the man was innocent and a great miscarriage of justice was avoided because of the video. If there had not been a video, then this poor man would have been judged guilty and his life would have been ruined. Not that the innocent verdict matters anyway. The lynch mob has named him, has trolled his home and business and have threatened him and more. His life is ruined because of an accusation that proved to be false in a court of law, but the mob doesn’t care.

    I’ve even been called a lazy and neglectful mother because I am not following my children’s footsteps when they go and play. I choose not to live in fear. If something were to happen, then we would deal with the repercussions. Our children are being kept inside in prison and it isn’t fair to them, or us.

  3. Jespren January 16, 2012 at 5:17 am #

    I wouldn’t get too excited about the birth/death stat though, it still puts us pretty much dead last among developed nations, even behind some 3rd world ones.

  4. aquinasprime January 16, 2012 at 6:26 am #

    The WHO’s stat for birth/death rates is a crock. It is skewed in such a way that the US’s numbers will always be significantly lower than most other developed nations. That’s because in most developed nations (i.e. much of Europe) a birth is not considered a live birth until it occurs at 34ish weeks, if a baby is born alive at an earlier age but then dies it gets classified as a still birth rather than a live infant death. Since we routinely in the US consider a baby born alive if it occurs at 26 or 27 weeks (depending on the weight of the baby), when these babies die (as many do) they count against our infant mortality rate. If they evaluated our numbers from 34ish weeks on, we would be at par or better than most developed nations.

  5. dmd January 16, 2012 at 7:35 am #

    Unfortunately, I’m sure that homicide is still way the heck up there where I live. We have the #1 per capita crime rate in the country. I’m still free range, however, or try to be. I guess you could say my son is not 100% sold on the free range idea! LOL! We live in a very safe neighborhood, however, and many of the city’s homicides are among folks doing stuff they shouldn’t be.

  6. Difster January 16, 2012 at 7:48 am #

    I don’t care about the statistics. I’m going to wrap my children in bubble wrap, air bags, put leashes on them, inject a GPS unit under their skin and hire 6 ex-Mossad agents as body guards to prevent any and all harm from happening to them.

  7. Nicole K January 16, 2012 at 8:25 am #

    Off-topic… over -reaction to Penn State scandal:

  8. Lollipoplover January 16, 2012 at 8:41 am #

    I believe the change in statistics is due to the Kids Toilet Safety locks. Since the toilet seats are always in the locked position (seat down), wives don’t have to murder their stupid husbands.

  9. Sera January 16, 2012 at 10:23 am #

    Homicide was a leading cause of death for 45 years in a country where everybody and their inbred cousin has a gun?


    However, I don’t think you should be looking at overall crime statistics to judge how safe children are. I’m pretty sure adults get murdered a lot more often than children do, because there’s a lot less a child can do to provoke murder (i.e. they’re generally not involved in the drug trade, don’t cheat on or otherwise really antagonize their spouses, etc.).

    When looking at child mortality statistics, you need to remember that children do not “die naturally” very often outside of infancy without some sort of congenial defect. They need to be killed by something (drowning, neglect, murder, car accident), whereas overall statistics include adults aged 60+, who DO “die naturally” from unavoidable, inevitable and understandable causes (cancers, heart and lung problems, Alzheimer’s etc.) Therefore, there is a tendancy to look at stats and say OH MY GOD all the children that die die of drowning and murder!!!, whereas in reality, of course they do. If they don’t die of something like that, they’re not going to be children when they die. They’ll be elderly adults.

  10. J. Atlas January 16, 2012 at 10:58 am #

    And lawful gun ownership is way up in the same time-frame. Coincidence?

    There’s no such thing as coincidence.

    -J. Atlas

  11. JaneW January 16, 2012 at 11:34 am #

    You know, I looked through the report for about an hour, then dug through some older reports. I was really struck by the fact that ALL THE NEWS IS GOOD in the National Vital Statistics Report.

    Age-adjusted mortality from almost all causes goes down. Infant deaths drop. Child deaths continue to decline, year after year. The racial gap in life expectancy goes down, and overall life expectancy goes up. And more and more of the deaths that occur are from chronic disease in the elderly. Even traffic accidents drop, perhaps due to an increase in safety equipment on cars.

  12. Sassystep January 16, 2012 at 12:20 pm #

    I wish that all parents would read this site. My husband dropped his son off to his mom on Friday night. She was at her parents condo and when his son buzzed up she said “be right down”, ten minutes later she came down in the elevator to pick her son up in the lobby and ride the four flights up with him in the elevator. When my DH asked why she couldn’t have just buzzed him up she responded with “he’s 9, I don’t know who is in the elevator!”. Seriously? In a security controlled building, with cameras everywhere he is t safe for two minutes when you know he is on his way? I worry about these kids. I worry about what business will look like and how households will operate in 30 years when today’s kids are in charge. At least I know that this community is raising the future generation of ceo’s and amazing parents. As for my stepson, both him and his sister spend half their time playing outside, choosing their own clothes, doing chores, riding their bikes around the block, etc. Hopefully this will be enough for them to know that the world isn’t the horrible place that they are daily told that it is.

  13. Peter Watson January 16, 2012 at 3:23 pm #

    An interesting potential correlation is the of the two world wars. This does not affect the US so much due to the very low rates of involvement in WWI. Compared to Australia and NZ for example, the participation and casualty rates for the US in WWI was near zero. Not quite but near.
    That to one side however the levels of general violence, after both wars and the depression in between, especially domestic and alcohol related was much higher than now. Well who’d have guessed? Large proportions of the male population in particular was very damaged and virtually ignored in terms of Post Traumatic Stress.
    I am of an age who’s fathers spent their early twenties vacillating between mind numbing boredom and terror. They saw and experienced things that can never be related to those who did not share such things. I clearly remember the levels of ‘normal” violence in the home, not mine I should add, but certainly friends, as being really rather disturbing in retrospect. It all seemed normal then in the late fifties, sixties and early seventies. We and those up to a decade older than myself, came of age for Vietnam, and yes Australians were there. The children of Vietnam vets can testify to the lagged after affects of that experience. It was however far less general than the percentages involved in and after WWII. What I am suggesting is there is a generational lag for the influences of such experiences to flow through. We are further now in time from Vietnam than I was from WWII in the late sixties. The cross generational damage is tapering off. So too are the measurable causative factors of much of that damage. Not all by any means, but no doubt a sizeable proportion of it.

  14. Kenny Felder January 16, 2012 at 7:44 pm #

    I’m reading through Steven Pinker’s “The Better Angels of our Nature” now. It’s been mentioned before on this site. The whole book is about the decline of violence, and various explanations for it. He has a way of consistently showing me that the things I thought were solid are actually pretty flimsy (such as Levitt’s “Freakonomics” explanation), and things I thought were just rumors hold up pretty well (such as some of the most cliche stereotypes about Northerners vs Southerners). I feel smarter every time I read him. What he doesn’t do, as a general rule, is tell me how to apply his insights to my life. But if I could get every American mother to read Pinker’s academic treatise and use it to justify Lenore’s common-sense approach to parenthood, this country would be *such* a better place.

  15. Virginia P January 16, 2012 at 8:47 pm #

    What happened to the “share” button?! There used to be one. How can I bug all my facebook friends with this wonderful news if you take that tool away. If it’s still there you’ve hidden it from this busy mom’s ability to find it.

    Also, how in the world do you email Lenore? I have wanted to send you a link more than once and haven’t been able to find an address anywhere on the site. I understand not wanting to get too much email, but this is silly.

  16. Uly January 16, 2012 at 9:52 pm #

    The share button’s at the bottom of the post, right under the picture.

  17. Marcy January 16, 2012 at 10:25 pm #

    “In other words, it is one of the panoply of things that can finally kill us if we live a long, un-murdered life” – love it.

    I did have a moment of fear that pneumonitis might mean that there will be “not appropriate for children under the age of 3” warnings on all food at the grocery store now, and there would be a plethora of “minimum age of 18 before being allowed into a restaurant” rules.
    Seriously though, I am apprehensive that there will be new guidelines on safe eating for children as a result, even if the problem is mostly confined to the elderly.

  18. LRH January 16, 2012 at 11:11 pm #

    Virginia P I have Lenore’s email, if she contacts me saying it’s okay, I will post another reply with it (but not in a way that spammers should be able to take advantage of, something like myemailaddress ART hotmail DORK com).

    This is a good post, submitting FACTS that backup why raising kids without nuts with worry (to quote the book’s title) is not only totally sensible, but a totally natural and responsible route of parenting to take. It helps to have facts to backup your “gut intuition” of things along these lines.

    Another fact, one I’ve quoted before & which Lenore even used on her recent interview with Jay Ackroyd–the worst school mass murder actually happened in 1927. It was NOT Columbine, nor Virginia Tech (with all due respect to people who went through either event). It was an event called the “Bath School Disaster” which (again) occurred in 1927. There’s even a Wikipedia article for it. As one other link mentions:

    The Bath School Disaster is the deadliest act of mass murder in a school in United States history, claiming more than three times as many victims as the Columbine High School massacre, and half-again as many victims as the Virginia Tech shootings. It was also the worst act of domestic terrorism in the United States until the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.

    It helps to have facts to backup what we already know: as Billy Joel said in his “Keeping the Faith” song: yesterday’s days weren’t always good & tomorrow ain’t as bad as it seems.


  19. Beth January 17, 2012 at 1:59 am #

    Regarding the “share” button, it should be noted that it is not on the front page of the blog. You have to click on the comments, then scroll up to the end of the article to find it.

  20. Gina January 17, 2012 at 5:07 am #

    LRH–Slight correction, but probably an important one for this board:

    “The GOOD OLD DAYS weren’t always so good…”


  21. amelia crenshaw January 17, 2012 at 9:14 am #

    Good to hear that is going down for once.!
    Baby Deals

  22. Puzzled January 17, 2012 at 9:38 pm #

    An allergy is, in essence, an overreaction by the immune system to a harmless antigen. It seems our society has grown an allergy to men walking alone, children going outside, and so on.

  23. KyohakuKeisanki January 18, 2012 at 11:54 am #

    Puzzled: and especially (gasp!) men walking alone while children are outside! Seriously, both the men and the kids need exercise and fresh air every once in a while. If they cross paths it’s not the end of the world.

  24. KyohakuKeisanki January 18, 2012 at 11:55 am #

    second comment… the subscribe e-mail didn’t send.

  25. hineata January 19, 2012 at 9:50 am #

    @Peter Watson – really interesting, and I hadn’t really thought about that. My dad grew up during the 2nd WW and the 50’s with a father who was, like so many, seriously traumatised by WW1. He was capable of being really violent, but fortunately was usually able to control himself by locking himself in a shed at the bottom of the garden, where my nana would feed him under a gap in the shed door for a few days until he’d calmed himself down. He was not at all unusal for the time and place ( a rundown innercity suburb). My dad talked about another boy who hung around with them all the time to avoid going home, because his dad was ‘actually psychotic’ (given what my grandad was capable of at times, it gives me grey hair to imagine what an ‘actual psychotic’ might get up to!). Dad made a conscious decision to respect the good things my grandfather had been capable of, but to avoid overt displays of anger and violence – we weren’t even smacked more than a handful of times – but a lot of the other boys he grew up with had a harder time doing this, and the ‘abuse’ carried on. The next generation though appeared less violent than their parents, and with better education and a third generation, most of the effects seem to be petering out in most sectors of society.

    If we don’t get any more general wars for a while, and we are able to help out families in trouble, maybe we’ll get close to eradicating that sort of violence…..hopefully….

  26. Dave February 3, 2012 at 5:14 am #

    I’m all in favor of free-range, believe me, but to play devil’s advocate… if the infant death rate is the lowest point ever, wouldn’t an anti-free range parent argue it’s probably because people (like them) now don’t do things like let the cat sleep in the crib, and they hover over their babies more?