Fear of Crime : Reality Vs Perception
- How likely is that you will become a crime victim?
- Do you read the newspaper and watch news?
- Do you discuss current events with your family and friends?
- Have you ever heard a story that left you feeling as though you knew them?
The “fear of crime” refers to the fear of being a victim of crime opposed to the actual probability of being a victim of crime. Hearing about events, knowing people who have been victimized, can rise a person’s level of anxiety towards crime and their risk of victimization. When the level of anxiety is proportionate with reality, people are more likely to take positive steps towards reducing their chances of victimization. However when the level of fear is disproportionate with reality, it can affect a person’s psychological well-being. The disparity can cause people to alter their lifestyle in an attempt to avoid the “problems”. It can also create a sense of mistrust and cohesion within the community which impacts their stability.
The display between perception and reality can also be attributed to the media’s response to crime. we live in a “need to know” society where we are surrounded with media outlets (i.e: newspaper, television, radio, internet, blogs, message boards, and pod cast) everywhere we turn. There is no doubt our perception are shaped by what the media deems as newsworthy. Often time news reports read like a police blotter, which lacks real content. In can be misleading. Thus, inaccurate/inappropriate attitudes, assumptions, labels, or stereotypes are created, which lead people to fear certain communities. This fear can hinder future investments and services being devoted to the community. It also creates a sense of insolation and devaluated self-image for those living in the community.