Murder Rate Down, Fear Up: WHY?

Readers — Below is an excerpt from a 2011 interview with University of Toronto criminologist Scot Wortley (just sent to me), whom I now consider a genius. He is so clear and smart about why, despite Canada’s homicide rate hitting a 44-year low, most people feel LESS safe, a discrepancy that daily constantly confounds me. The interviewer is Jenny Hall:  

Why does it feel like it’s less safe than ever out there?

This is one of the interesting things that we as criminologists are often asked to explain. We just recently did a survey in Toronto. We asked “do you think crime has increased or decreased in the last 10 years? The vast majority of Toronto residents—in the 80 to 90 per cent range—believe that crime is much worse now than it was 10 years ago.

There are probably a number of factors that contribute to that perception, but I believe it’s primarily the impact of the media. Compared to 20 or 30 years ago, coverage of crime is a much larger proportion of all news coverage.

We live in the age of the remote control, when people can change the channel quickly when a news program loses their interest. If you do crime stories, that will capture the audience. If your news is dominated with political, economic or human interest stories, you’re going to lose viewership.

This means we hear about the crimes that do take place in much more detail. We receive much more sensationalistic coverage. We receive the gory details.

We did a study of newspaper coverage a few years ago and found that there was a new homicide reported every single day in the Toronto newspaper. That was interesting because that year there were only 68 homicides in Toronto. So how can a new one appear every day?

The answer is that if there wasn’t a local homicide to report, they went outside the city. We found that 40 per cent of the homicides reported were American. This gives the impression to someone who is getting all of their information about crime from the newspaper, or from the TV news, that crime is everywhere.

Are there other factors contributing to this perception?

I also think there are a couple of players that benefit a great deal from fear of crime. The private security industry is a multi-billion dollar industry in North America. They want us to feel insecure because then we’re going to spend more money securing our homes and vehicles.

Law enforcement also benefits from fear of crime. We’ve seen police budgets and budgets for the public safety agenda increase dramatically over the last 20 years in this city and in other cities. I find it interesting that the Toronto Police Service remains largely silent in commenting on the drop in the crime rate. It’s interesting that when crime appears to be going up—when we have a rash of shootings or gang-related activity—the police are front and centre assuring the public that they are going to do all they can to fight the scourge of crime. But they’re very reluctant to deliver good news. They’re very reluctant to come out and say, “You’re safe on the streets, the crime rate is down.” I wonder if that reluctance is somehow linked to a concern that if the public becomes complacent about crime, if the public argues that their money should be spent elsewhere, that their economic power would be eroded.

Crime has also become a very prevalent issue in modern politics. If you followed the last federal election, you saw the Conservative government champion themselves as the promoters of public safety and as the party that was going to bring criminals to justice. When that kind of rhetoric is so prevalent among our community leaders, it does have an impact on public perception. [MORE HERE!]

Boogeyman crimes are up 179% in the last 10 years.

53 Responses to Murder Rate Down, Fear Up: WHY?

  1. Marci March 24, 2013 at 10:39 pm #

    Hi Lenore,
    A good friend of mine is a criminologist in B.C. and I always feel better about the safety of my kids after speaking to him because he tells pretty much the same story you just did. The dangers haven’t really increased, just our knowledge of them. I try very hard not to let my fears impact my children’s growth and life experiences. To be honest, I think this is where cell phones for kids come in handy. Right or wrong, I feel safer knowing that I can reach my kids and they can reach me if needed..it makes me feel more comfortable letting them do things without me. A goof compromise between increasing their independence and decreasing my worry.

  2. Yan Seiner March 24, 2013 at 10:56 pm #

    Turn off the TV. Listen to good, quality radio – NPR or something like that. DO NOT listen to hate radio of any format (this includes the vast majority of talk radio). DO NOT watch the slop that comes on TV and is called news.

    That’s been my solution. I read the local town paper, and I read our local neighborhood paper. I catch a lot of stuff on the web, and I avoid anything sensational. Pretty much anything that says “Must watch” means I’m not. :)

    Just like food, we control what goes into our minds. WE CHOOSE. It is our responsibility to choose wisely, and to teach our children to choose wisely.

  3. hineata March 25, 2013 at 4:09 am #

    I was ready to pooh-pooh the effect of the media, because in general I feel I can ignore it, and we don’t have a lot of violent crime around where we live, unless you happen to move in criminal circles.

    And then my ‘baby’, aged 12, was half an hour late home tonight from hockey trials tonight. She biked that way for the first time, and it is about a fifty minute ride anyway, so seven fifteen and she’s still not home. Didn’t get hysterical or anything, but was on the point of getting Boy to bike out and see where she’d gotten to, and did find myself feeling quite worried, and imagining different scenarios (hit by car, broken down, met wrong person, in KFC having dinner, etc, etc). A half hour is nothing, really…..but still worried, silly me :-)

    Am sure the media contributed to some of my thoughts, LOL! Will have to follow Yan’s advice and switch off the TV…

  4. Kristen March 25, 2013 at 8:43 am #

    I wonder, though, how much of the non-admittance– at least if you are talking to individual officers rather than a PR rep for the force– stems from not seeing rates as being lower. If you are new to the force, you don’t know how it was years ago. Also, depending on where your beat, you still might see the worst of the crime so it just doesn’t *seem* like crime is down. Much like a group of tort attorneys can see potential lawsuits everywhere because of the cases they have worked on (a colleague has a wife who is an attorney and he firmly believes that everyone will bring a lawsuit for anything) or an ER doctor who sees broken bones from playground injuries all the time… if your profession immerses you in the worst things about humanity, I think your perception probably gets skewed and you forget about the millions of times that the bad things DON’T happen. And it’s difficult for many people even in the face of the hard evidence, to disregard how they feel about things.

    I’ll have to look it up so I can post it… I read about a study that showed that the adage of going with your first guess on a test is the best option. The study showed that changing your answer if you thought you should resulted in more correct answers. But even telling people this and showing them the study- that they SHOULD change their answer if they thought better about their first choice- most people still won’t change their answers.

    Compound that unwillingness to accept statistics with the fact that cops, attorneys, and doctors are respected professionals the general populous look to for information regarding crime, potential lawsuits, or safety of playgrounds and add in media that sensationalizes these things, it’s no wonder that there’s a collective fear complex.

    I suggest this all as the daughter of a retired NYPD cop from the 60s-early 80s. He brought home to me stories about his job (along with true crime novels that I would read because as a kid, I would read anything with words on it) that skewed my sense of how safe the world is and where the dangers are. I fight against it as an adult, because I understand the numbers. But still, there are sometimes that I freak myself out over something that I know is nothing.

  5. SKL March 25, 2013 at 10:30 am #

    Someone on another site argued that while crime rates are lower in cities, they are higher as a % in suburbs, where folks used to feel pretty safe. I wonder if the perception we’re getting is partly because of the % of suburban folks (particularly suburban moms) on the internet.

    I live in a suburb and I feel quite safe. While I’m sure there are drug crimes etc., I don’t consider our family a target of those crimes at this point, so I assume they will bypass us, just as they did when I lived in a big city as a kid.

    Then again, I just accidentally drove into a roadside mailbox yesterday, and I got a citation for it (apparently that’s the only way to “do the right thing”). So I guess I just boosted crime statistics in my suburb. I still don’t think the neighborhood is any less safe for people. Mailboxes, maybe.

  6. Captain America March 25, 2013 at 11:39 am #

    We have no TV; listen to Catholic radio and turn in the local news station.

    It’s telling, in pounds, that the Toronto police don’t publicly note the crime decline.

    And the guy’s right in noting how there’s a nice economic tie-in to this.

  7. lollipoplover March 25, 2013 at 2:55 pm #

    Our attitudes about increased crime also has to do with this new belief that every crime against children could be prevented somehow. Children who are killed in random violence should have been home and in bed and not out on the streets and where were there parents, etc.
    The crimes against children here in suburbia continue to be perpetrated by parents (murder-suicides), caregivers, or by reckless drivers.
    Kids die of the flu and medical complications too but that is not doesn’t grab audiences as quickly as a hit and run or a boogeyman sighting.

  8. hineata March 25, 2013 at 2:59 pm #

    The way the media has access to news from literally around the globe isn’t helping, as we discuss regularly. I was in the process of sending through an email to our local council when I saw that Yahoo (my homepage, and I use the international one, because I have my local paler for national news) has a story about a woman from a suburb near mine. This woman made what some might consider to be a bit of a silly decision, and left her newborn in the car while she went shopping, with a note on it asking passersby to ring a cellphone no if they noticed bubs crying. However, who isn’t silly occasionally with babies – your brain is hardly functioning when they’re that little.

    Anyway the point of what I was actually trying to say, before I sidetracked myself, is – for what reason does the entire world need to know that some woman had a brainfade in a suburb at the end of the known world? It’s been picked up by newsfeeds in the UK, literally on the opposite side of the world. The poor woman is likely to need psych help at this rate, the amount of publicity that’s being generated and the awful comments, and what help will that do the baby?

    So, yep, media access to absolutely everything leads one to believe the world is much more dangerous than it really is, for us Western types anyway. Meanwhile, in Syria etc, the world continues to fall apart, and we seem to hear little of it – old news, I guess.

  9. Donna March 25, 2013 at 6:53 pm #

    hineata – That story is the number 2 trending case on Yahoo right now — and my settings are still for the US and not A. Samoa.

  10. hineata March 25, 2013 at 7:20 pm #

    @Donna – crazy, eh? Am sure there must be real news occuring somewhere in the world.

    Gosh, Afghan women were duped into spying for NATO, according to the paper in front of me. And nobody notices…..

  11. mollie March 25, 2013 at 9:36 pm #

    “The unfortunate thing is that obsession with personal safety also directly erodes civic life and people’s willingness to engage with their neighbours. We’ve become a society of cocooners who travel to work or to particular leisure spots but don’t engage in the city.”

    I couldn’t agree more. Unfortunate doesn’t even begin to cover it. Interaction, community, interdependence… it’s the stuff of life. We’re cutting ourselves off from it in the name of “safety,” and we are, through our personal isolation, becoming ill, and without the support of neighbours, less safe.

  12. Warren March 25, 2013 at 9:44 pm #

    One thing that keeps the masses fearful, is the constant reporting and sensationalizing of

    COULD HAVES
    ALMOSTS
    CLOSE CALLS
    NEAR MISSES
    REPORTS OF

    and so on. When there isn’t any actual news to report, the media leads with the kids lucky not to be abducted by the redheaded lady offering them rides.

    So now instead of feeling good that it was a stretch without serious incident, it becomes a time of heightened awareness at how unsafe things really are.

    I honestly believe that most people are not happy, unless they have something to worry about. They like being scared. They wouldn’t know what to do, if everything was just fine.

  13. fred schueler March 25, 2013 at 11:15 pm #

    of course, the rate at which Toronto is expanding across the countryside is a major crime, so that must influence Torontonians’ sense of wrongness.

  14. ifsogirl March 26, 2013 at 12:19 am #

    I have a feeling part of it is also the segregation between neighbours. I live in a townhoue complex in an ok part of town. I know the people on either side of me, we all have girls who play together and so we chat on the front lawn.

    I know there is a drug house in one of the townhouses across the way. They are polite young men who always wave, smile and say hello. They never talk to the children and will take steps to avoid them. Next door to this house lives a corrections officer. I feel totally safe letting my kids, age 5 and 8, run around the area on their own. I have told them that the people in that house are very private and to leave them alone.

    Most of the information regarding this house has been gathered from neighbours. We have discussed it and as the drug house has been there for years with no incident we are ok with it. It seems to keep seedier people away. Perhaps not the ideal situation, but I’d rather teach my kids how to be safe than be afraid of everything that could potentially be a risk

  15. Mike C March 26, 2013 at 12:35 am #

    I personally think the biggest contributers are the large number of police dramas who need a new child-abducting villain every week, the evening news who have found that the “tune in at 6 and we’ll tell you why you should be afraid of X” formula brings in viewers, and the so-called reality shows like Panic 9-1-1 whose producers outright admit they add their own drama to the original stories. Also, anyone trying to sell you something usually finds fear-mongering a good tactic (I’m looking at you, Lysol).

    As for the New Zealand lady who left her infant in the car mentioned above (http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/03/25/mother-leaves-newborn-baby-locked-car-note-asking-shoppers-call-her-picture_n_2947405.html), I had lost a FaceBook friend today by daring argue that the infant was probably perfectly safe sleeping there for a few minutes, particularly since the rain on the windshield would indicate the infant was probably not in danger of heat stroke, and that if the mother had the foresight to leave her number in case of emergency, she would probably have also had the foresight to leave the window open a bit unless it was cold outside.

  16. Mike C March 26, 2013 at 12:43 am #

    (I also argued that potential kidnapping would be the least of the child’s safety concerns.)

    Back to the news, perhaps a sanity check in a dramatic news story would be to include the number of people who died to the more usual causes that day/week/month in the same city/state/province as the story? It would require some mortality reporting infrastructure, but it’ll put the story in more perspective.

  17. JP March 26, 2013 at 12:51 am #

    Trouble is, crime is sexy. Not necessarily the normal swing of things – but add violence to the mix and you have an instant hit. (Without it, Hollywood woulda gone broke long ago…)
    Which brings on the dollar signs. It pays. Large.
    Thus do we further process and value-add the children of the nation. They are profit-prducing progeny.
    Take a nickel worth of kid and add 95 cents worth of danger and you have almost an exponentially increasing profit opportunity.
    But the real stock exchange in all of this runs on fear.
    Funny how that works. Folks can be scared of 147 very real bogeymen (disguised variously as institutionalized pillars of social grandiosity) yet the bogeyman they will eternally succumb to in the end….is the imagined poof of pixie dust, who doesn’t really exist at all. Why?
    Interesting question.
    I think the answer to it, is this: He’s there to distract all the good folks from the 147 others. And he does a remarkably fine job, doesn’t he?

  18. hineata March 26, 2013 at 12:52 am #

    @Mike C – agree with you, except that very sadly the ‘rain’ is not rain but a poor quality picture of some type. We haven’t had much in the way of rain for months, unheard of in Wellington…Drought around the whole country pretty much, actually.

    So donations of rain would be most welcome :-)

  19. Donna March 26, 2013 at 1:47 am #

    Hineata – You are welcome to some of our daily rain.

  20. Katie March 26, 2013 at 8:09 am #

    I’ve heard it also just has to do with the ways our brains are set up. Primordial fears or something like that.

    Oh and a poor knowledge of actually statistics combined with a high sense of ego. People are so egotistical they think if they are afraid of something than it must be legit.

    For example look at all the people who drive long distances to avoid flying, although flying is statistically many times safer.

    Same goes for people who drive there kids around to lots of activities, but won’t let them play outside-the second being statistically much safer. Not to mention all the SUVs and Minivans that collectively are all making themselves less safer because an accident between 2 SUVs is 3x more likely to lead to serious injuries or fatalities than one between 2 cars.

    I’m really not even sure the average American has any sense of statistics at all. But they sure like to give out advice on what they think is statistically safe.

  21. Andy March 26, 2013 at 8:53 am #

    Why is fear up? Simple there’s money to be made from people being afraid. Buy this product, pay for this service, give us money,power and permission to do what we want.
    But this only gives power over our lives to others. It only treats the symptoms not the cause. Which is what is wanted. There’s no money in a cure, only in the treatment.

  22. lollipoplover March 26, 2013 at 9:03 am #

    ” Same goes for people who drive there kids around to lots of activities, but won’t let them play outside-the second being statistically much safer. Not to mention all the SUVs and Minivans that collectively are all making themselves less safer because an accident between 2 SUVs is 3x more likely to lead to serious injuries or fatalities than one between 2 cars.”

    I would also add that the greatest danger facing children who walk or bike to school is getting hit by a car driven by a parent transporting their own child to school. Moms in minivans talking on the phone. That’s my fear.

  23. Captain America March 26, 2013 at 9:39 am #

    Here’s a new conjecture from Captain America:

    We’re just not as united as we used to be, in terms of our beliefs.

    OR perhaps we instead have a fake notion of how people should be.

    I think the mass media perpetuate a Standard Image of How People Should Live. . . and then freak out if people don’t conform to this.

    Lawyers are also complicit in destroying bonds between people.

  24. mollie March 26, 2013 at 10:56 am #

    “I honestly believe that most people are not happy, unless they have something to worry about. They like being scared. They wouldn’t know what to do, if everything was just fine.”

    Warren, I think that people have been conditioned into a feedback-loop of fear. Of course it’s a kind of choice to remain unconscious of that conditioning, to not wake up and see that you participate in your own experience and are not simply a victim of your environment or upbringing, but few wake up, perhaps because they’ve come to identify with their fears and the sensation of terror, and it’s so familiar that it’s a sad kind of comfort.

  25. Warren March 26, 2013 at 11:58 am #

    @mollie

    “simply a victim”?

    This got me thinking. One of the most prevelent behaviours we see today in society, is that noone wants to take responsibility for themselves or their kids. Parents put that job off on the state, the school, the insurance companies, the toy manufacturers, manufacturers of anything an so on.

    So if we connect that to your “simply a victim”, then we may have an answer here. Instead of waking up each day, and confronting those fears, and taking control of our lives and the lives of our kids, it is just easier to say we are victims of our surroundings, enviroments. If we are victims, then it is not our fault, and thus there is nothing we can do about it. Again being able to deny any responsiblity for the way our lives are led.

    Someone once said fear is easy…..courage is not.

  26. JJ March 26, 2013 at 12:57 pm #

    Warren do you really think that no one wants to take responsibility for their kids? I would argue the opposite, that too many people think that they alone are responsible for anything bad that happens to their kids.

  27. Warren March 26, 2013 at 2:06 pm #

    @JJ

    They say they do, but their behaviour says otherwise.

    When a manufacturer is called on to change the color and packaging of their laundry detergent packs because kids eat them, that is parents holding them responsible. When the parents are responsible, by not knowing what their kids are like, and not putting the packs out of harms reach.

    And that is just one example. There have been more, just on this site alone.

    It is this sense of entitlement, that every possible risk should be eliminated, that is the problem. They expect it, and therefore when something does happen it is not the parents fault.

  28. EricS March 26, 2013 at 2:24 pm #

    I’m glad someone of authority touched up on this issue. He pretty much said what many of us have always believed to be the cause of these fears. Hopefully, now that someone of authority has actually enforced our beliefs, maybe people will start using some common sense again. This fear of today, didn’t happen over night. It started with the on set of the internet. It’s no coincidence. People relied more and more of being spoon fed information, rather than gathering their own. Using their own heads, and common sense and logic. Just like any trend, something that started off small in isolated areas, have become the norm now. It’s now what many people believe, without actually ever knowing what they are believing in. All because “that’s what the internet said”.

    As Wortley wrote, there are other contributing factors to people’s fears. These are the forces that stand to benefit (politically or financially), from the fear of others. So they perpetuate the mentality. Media sensationalizes crime because it’s what sells. Just as Wortley wrote. Corporations instill fear in people so that they will by their products to make themselves feel “safer”. Once the parents are conditioned this way, they in turn condition their children to feel and think the same way. And as these kids grow to be adults, they spread the same mentality to their kids, and others that don’t believe in thinking for themselves. It’s a perpetual issue, that has one solution…stop fearing for no viable reason. Because there isn’t one. Once people start getting into the habit of thinking as we did 20 years ago, common sense will return to the majority, and the new trend will be as it was. As it should be.

  29. Donna March 26, 2013 at 5:03 pm #

    @Warren –

    But isn’t the parent’s attitude because society believes that everything that happens to a child must be someone’s fault? Accidents can never happen. Children must be 100% safe 100% of the time or someone failed. Parents aren’t doing these thing because they have no responsibility for their children but because society has thrust on them the responsibility of being perfect when it comes to their children.

    People ask for manufactures to change their packaging, not because they don’t want to be responsible for their children, but because it is one less thing to worry about potentially happening to their child for which they will be blamed. Since every scrape, scratch, bruise, hurt my child suffers is MY fault, it might be nice to not have to worry about possibly, maybe being distracted for 5 seconds while doing laundry and having something occur that will be deemed a horrible failure on my part. Rather them change their packaging than me deal with the condemnation of society as well as the death (can one die from eating laundry soap?) of my child.

    Back when parents could take reasonable responsibility for their children and were not expected to be perfect 24/7, these things didn’t happen. Now that superhuman abilities are required for society to believe that you are a decent parent, parents need help.

  30. Warren March 26, 2013 at 6:12 pm #

    @Donna

    Sorry but your arguement is self cancelling.

    People ask for manufactures to change their packaging, not because they don’t want to be responsible for their children, but because it is one less thing to worry about potentially happening to their child for which they will be blamed.

    In your words, they expect the manufacturer to change what they do, so a parent can absolve them selves of taking responsibility.

    And apparently the tide gel packs look too much like candy, and a child choked on one.
    Sorry not Tide’s fault………………it was the parent’s fault for not having it out of reach. Pure and simple.

  31. Donna March 26, 2013 at 7:18 pm #

    Warren,

    Your arguments are also self-cancelling. You frequently state that accidents happen and it is no big deal. However, apparently if an accident happens to a child, it is because the parent didn’t take responsibility for their children.

    The fact is that parents are not 100% perfect. They accidentally leave something down after they use it one day out of 365. They get distracted in the middle of doing laundry. Kids suddenly reach places that they couldn’t the day before. Kids suddenly decide to do something really stupid that they never tried before. We used to as a society understand this and give a sympathetic “it happens to all of us sometime” to mom when it did. Now mom is blamed and may even be prosecuted or CPS called for the same thing.

    It isn’t a matter of fault. Sure, the laundry-doer is somewhat at fault for accidentally leaving the laundry detergent within reach of the child. Just like someone is technically at fault for most accidents. Cars don’t run into each other unless someone does something wrong. Swings don’t fall off unless defective or improperly maintained. Kids don’t fall out of trees unless they make a mistake or misjudgment.

    But, with penalties being what they are for crimes that arise to nothing more than parenting while human, I can see why parents want less candy-like laundry soap as a backup on the chance that Jr. gets it on the day that they inevitably accidentally leave it down. Because it will happen on one of the laundry days before the child moves out of the house.

  32. Donna March 26, 2013 at 7:59 pm #

    When I was a toddler, one day my mother threw her unzipped purse on the backseat next to me. I dug into it, pulled out aspirin and may or may not have eaten some. I got a trip to the hospital and some delightful charcoal for lunch; she got an “it’s okay” and a “it happens to everyone.” No blame, CPS calls, police investigation, lynch mob, or comments that her child should be taken away.

    If the same thing happened today, does anyone not believe that some or all of the above would occur? Can you really blame a parent for wanting a child-proof cap on the aspirin as a backup for when they have brain farts?

    It isn’t about blaming Bayer or Tide (some may but not reasonable people). It is about wanting some help achieving perfection because as human beings we can’t be perfect and society expects us to be.

    It is also probably a little deflection. Since most of this is just a stupid accident that parents are mercilessly blamed for, they start looking for someone else to blame to take some of the pressure off.

  33. Warren March 26, 2013 at 10:51 pm #

    Wow Donna you are really hardcore. Yes shit happens to good people. And if my toddler gets her paws on a detergent pack because I was distracted, or forgot, …………then yes it was an accident. But still my fault. Not some huge crime against humanity. But unlike some, and seems like you, I am willing to take responsiblity. Just because someone can admit being fully or in part responsible for something doesn’t mean they should be publicly flogged. Stop thinking like an attorney, and start acting like a human, Donna.

  34. Warren March 26, 2013 at 11:00 pm #

    So Donna,

    To save parents from having to be parents we need an arm of the gov`t that will

    1. Study and find the most unappealing colours to those under the age of 18. Yes 18 because that is the lowest age most can agree on.
    2. Enact laws that all products, no matter their intended use, are manufactured in these non attractive colours.
    3. Enact laws that all products, no matter their intended us, are packaged in these non attractive colours.
    4. Force manufacturers to comply, no matter how much damage it will do to their business.
    5. Arrest and jail anyone that alters the colours, for it will put kids at risk.

    and so on.

    You want to blame the manufacturer for you kid swallowing a detergent pack, or a bucky ball, or a piece of lego, or dog food, or cat shit from the litter box………..you go right ahead Donna and be that b====h…………..me on the other hand, will be there telling you to get your head out of your ass and take responsibility.

    Part of taking responsibility Donna, is also not trying to find fault in others, blaming others, such as the manufacturer.

  35. Donna March 26, 2013 at 11:31 pm #

    Warren –

    I thought there was hope that you could carry on a reasonable conversation without actually being a complete ass. Experience should have taught me otherwise so I will end my participation in this one.

  36. Donna March 26, 2013 at 11:48 pm #

    And I agree that asking Tide changing its gel tabs is completely ridiculous. I just don’t think it is a lack of parental willingness to take responsibility for children that motivates them to do it. It is society’s insistence that children must be 100% safe, 100% of the time that causes it. It is living in a society – and buying into the notion – that simply doesn’t understand that eating laundry soap IS NO BIG DEAL. It probably shouldn’t be a staple in a child’s diet but it isn’t tragic. It isn’t horrible. Your child is not going to be scarred for life.

  37. Warren March 27, 2013 at 9:55 am #

    Donna

    Talking with you is like beating my head against the wall, it feels so good when I stop.

    Scenario

    Child chokes on tide detergent gel pack

    Accident yes or no…..yes

    companies fault for the colour scheme………….no

    Mother’s fault for leaving them where kid could get them….yes.

    Does said mother deserve to be punished………..no

    It is that easy Donna. Not everything needs to be analyzed, studied, and litigated for two plus years.

    Just like with all the crooks, thieves and other law breakers out there, that claim it was their upbringing, mommy didn’t hold me, the economic downturn, the drugs, the alcohol………..all BS excuses. They made the choice to do what they did, no one else.

    Parents are the same way. When their kid sucks on a Bucky Ball, it isn’t their fault for leaving them out, it is the company’s fault for making them, or not putting a big enough warning on the box. When a kid sucks on some household cleaner, it is not the parents fault for forgeting it on the bathroom floor, it is the manufacturers fault for making it the same colour as grape Kool Aid.

    Donna the moment you tell someone that they should change to prevent something or because of something, you are making them responsible. Therefore absolving you of responsibility.

    Point the finger at someone, and that means it isn’t your fault.

  38. pentamom March 27, 2013 at 11:37 am #

    “Donna the moment you tell someone that they should change to prevent something or because of something, you are making them responsible. Therefore absolving you of responsibility.”

    Except that’s the opposite of what she said. You just aren’t reading her right.

  39. pentamom March 27, 2013 at 11:42 am #

    Too put Donna’s point in a nutshell (I think) — we are 100% responsible for our kids. But to fail to be perfect 100% of the time is not to be irresponsible.

    Yet society tells us that it is, and that to fail to be perfect 100% of the time is tantamount to being responsible 0% of the time. Therefore, it’s an understandable (if not correct) reaction to want things to be easier, so there’s something closer to a real chance that those things that we would be blamed for, can’t happen.

    It’s not because we’re not willing to be responsible, it’s because we know we’re not perfect, but are expected to be. “Putting up with societal expectations of perfection” is not the same thing as “willing to be responsible,” as history shows — historically society did not equate responsibility with perfection, nor are those words equivalent.

  40. Warren March 27, 2013 at 1:51 pm #

    You know what, this is banging my head against the wall.

    Wow how simple it is, yet how complicated you want to make it.

    Simple fact, that if due to your less than perfect parenting, your child has an accident. The moment you try to have someone other than yourself change anything, you are denying responsibility and deflecting blame.

    I am not saying that a child having an accident makes anyone a bad parent. My kid breaks her arm falling from a tree. Pure accident, and yes two people have some responsiblitly for it. Her for whatever lapse in attention or judgement that caused the fall, and me for allowing her to participate in the activity. There is no such thing as a no fault incident. But just because you accept responsiblity, doesn’t mean you did anything wrong.

    To equate taking responsibility with doing something wrong is just insane and ignorant.

    And for the most part people and parent do not take responsibility. They are contstantly blaming the gov’t, the school, the community, the whatever for all their problems.

    Sorry if you do not like it, but it is that simple. Own up to your actions, stand up and be counted. Stop pointing fingers and expecting other’s to do your job.

  41. pentamom March 27, 2013 at 5:08 pm #

    ” But just because you accept responsiblity, doesn’t mean you did anything wrong.”

    No one here is arguing with that — but tell it to law enforcement, CPS, your neighbors, your family members….

    Yes, we can stand up and scream “But they’re wrong!” all you want. But actual human beings can do that, and at the same time, be tempted to find ways to mitigate the chance of accidents so that they don’t have to keep listening to that garbage every time an accident happens.

    The people who try to force Tide to change their product are not acting in the wisest possible way by blaming Tide instead of just assuming responsibility for what happens in their homes, AND DONNA SAID THAT. But the fact that people who are willing to take responsibility are not equally willing to be “blamed” for every negative thing that happens and so it’s natural, even if not right, for them to seek ways to make life less accident-prone.

  42. Tsu Dho Nimh March 27, 2013 at 6:59 pm #

    @warren:

    One thing that keeps the masses fearful, is the constant reporting and sensationalizing of

    COULD HAVES
    ALMOSTS
    CLOSE CALLS
    NEAR MISSES
    REPORTS OF

    Oh yes. I saw an ABC news report today about how “A Colorado man was able to protect himself from a deadly face-to-face meeting.”

    He looked out his window, saw three mountain lions wandering around his house high in the Rocky Mountains, the normal habitat of mountain lions, and DID NOT GO OUTSIDE. Thereby escaping being mauled to death and devoured by wild beasts.

    It’s like saying I avoided death today because I stayed off the freeway.

  43. Warren March 27, 2013 at 10:42 pm #

    Well penta and Donna,

    All I can say is that I am glad I live in Ontario, where I do not have to parent under fear of prosecution by law enforcement or an overzealous, far too empowered CPS.

    Also I am glad I am who I am, and parent the way I see fit, and do not give a rat’s ass about what anyone else thinks.
    Becuase the people that point fingers and blame parents for accidents are no better than the parents that point fingers at manufacturers.

    LOL, yes I am sure that if CPS and the law came to investigate the choking death of a child, they would go and charge the manufacturer with manslaughter or murder, or in the very least conspiracy to commit murder, for designing the gel packs, the way they did.

  44. Warren March 27, 2013 at 10:45 pm #

    What I am seeing in society, is even in the comments here.

    More excuses day in and day out.

    Why is everyone so afraid of being responsible?

    With evey excuse you make, it is just another attempt to remove responsibility.

    Which makes some in here hypocrites. “Do not tell my kids what they can or cannot do.” “It is the manufacturers fault for colouring the pack like that, or making bucky balls to fun”

    Must be nice to live in a world where you can demand the best of both worlds.

  45. Ann March 27, 2013 at 11:25 pm #

    But why exactly IS crime down? Unfortunately, I think it’s down BECAUSE all the kids today are being watched like hawks and kept indoors and taught to run screaming any time a stranger looks at them. Yes, we’re teaching kids to live in fear these days (bad) but we have to admit, it’s probably the reason there just isn’t a lot of crimes against children anymore…the bad guys have no access to them at all.

  46. Warren March 28, 2013 at 10:19 am #

    Ann,
    Do not tell the helicopter parents that their efforts are the reason crime is down.

    If they believe that, then we are in real trouble.

  47. pentamom March 28, 2013 at 11:21 am #

    “Yes, we’re teaching kids to live in fear these days (bad) but we have to admit, it’s probably the reason there just isn’t a lot of crimes against children anymore…the bad guys have no access to them at all.”

    Couple of problems with that — one, all crime is down. So locking up your kids doesn’t account for the crimes against non-kids.

    Second, the overwhelming proportion of crimes against kids have always been perpetrated by the known individual, and frequently in “safe” locations. Locking up kids to prevent the tiny number of crimes that would be prevented by not locking them up would not have the statistical effect on crime that we’re seeing — it might have no effect at all, because it would expose them to more of the people who are responsible for most crimes against children more of the time — family members, friends of family members, and caretakers. The “bad guys” who actually harm children to a statistically significant degree have as much access as ever.

  48. ebohlman March 28, 2013 at 11:04 pm #

    Pentamom is correct. For example, in fully 75% of cases of child sexual abuse, the perpetrator is someone who either is or was in a sexual relationship with the child’s mother. Another 20% are siblings, “funny uncles”, or non-household authority figures (teachers, coaches, clergy, etc.) Only 5% of perps are strangers, so even completely eliminating “stranger danger” couldn’t reduce child sexual abuse by more than 5%. It’s gone down a lot more than that.

    Similarly, for both adults and children, the majority of homicides are committed by someone known to the victim (with children, that’s almost always the case). Same for rape of adults. What we think of as “street crime” actually accounts for a very small percentage of serious crime; it’s just that we find it easier to envision (availability heuristic) and it’s easier for the media to sensationalize it.

  49. Lisa March 29, 2013 at 7:14 am #

    It’s much easier to fear risk from an unknown “bad guy” than to admit that statistically, the family friend you’ve known for years or a favorite uncle is more likely to be the person abusing kids. *That* is a very hard concept to get our heads around, and I have to admit, even KNOWING the statistics and having what I think is a very healthy perspective on the (lack of) “stranger danger”, I still don’t 100% accept, or make decisions based on, the other possibility.

    My daughter travels out of state to visit her other parent several times per year. Statistically, isn’t *that* when she’s most likely to be abducted? Non-custodial parents are responsible for a large percentage of kidnappings. Yet I let her go, because I don’t know another way to deal with that risk. She spends time with family, and friends, and their parents. I do my best to keep an open line of communication between us, and make sure she would feel comfortable talking to me about absolutely anything… but do we ever really know?

    I trust that she would stand up for herself and talk to me, but she’s older. When she was young, I think I mostly just avoided thinking about that statistically more likely danger, because I just couldn’t grasp what to do about it – I can’t feel afraid of people I’m close to, no matter what the statistics say.

  50. Suzanne March 30, 2013 at 10:57 am #

    I tend to agree with those who’ve said giving their kids a cell phone helps the parent feel better. I think many of us were given a quarter (or a dime before that) in case we would need to call home. Payphones are few and far between now so cell phones make sense.

    I think the way media has worked so hard, knowingly or not, is akin to the fear of communists and spies in the 50s.

  51. Warren March 30, 2013 at 11:45 pm #

    For one thing, when my kids went off to play, or to walk the dog, or whatever, never did the thought of abduction, or molestation ever enter my thoughts.

    I know where they are going, for what general reason and when they are supposed to get home. And when they were not home at the designated time, plus the grace period, it would take maybe three tries to find them. Always loved the look on their face when they saw Dad’s truck pull up. The oh crap look, is hilarious.

    My inlaws would freak, my daughters would rush into the house, or trailer, rambling on about their plans for the day, grab some food, and rush out. My inlaws would almost panic that I didn’t slow them down, put limits on them, and so on. My response,” I didn’t hear the words guns, knives, sex or drugs, so they are good to go.”

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