After recent dramatic drives to defund the police, many Americans believe that crime is on the rise. We watch as politicians promise to send federal agents to curb crime in cities nationwide. We stay inside and wonder - is crime really peaking during a pandemic?
The stats simply don't back up this fear. Far from experiencing a crime wave, we're actually living through historic lows in overall crime rates. Why are we still afraid? Are any of our fears justified?
Rates of US Crime - Down Overall, Despite Our Perceptions
Numerous studies show that crime in 2020 is down when compared to similar timelines and data from 2019 and earlier. Except for some specific types of violent misconduct, such as domestic and racial violence, criminal conduct is at an all-time low.
Many governors across the United States have issued stay-at-home orders. This means that many Americans are foregoing their usual activities in favor of quiet nights in. This may reduce the number of vulnerable populations of criminal activity. Alternatively, criminals themselves may simply be in quarantine as well. Whatever the specific cause, rates of crime do appear to be plummeting.
Regardless of the hard facts, however, some perceive a completely different story. Why do some people still believe we're experiencing record peaks of crime? Is there any basis or rationale backing up these fears?
Crime is Down. Why Are We Still Afraid?
Americans are terrible at gauging their risk of being the victim of a crime. We always overestimate our chances. We have consistently said that we do not approve of our nation's crime response, or that we worry about crime rates. We have even said that many of us would be afraid to walk in our neighborhoods alone at night.
Ultimately, we are very sensitive to risk; perhaps less so to reality. In 2020, our paranoia has become heightened. We are living in what some experts are calling the ‘age of anxiety’. This is affecting every aspect of how we live our modern lives. It impacts our purchases. It impacts our weekly activities (or lack thereof). It also impacts how easily many people may jump to accusing another of a crime.
A 2010 Social Psychology report showed that we as a people substantially overestimate our risk of becoming a victim of criminal activity. We tend to accurately gauge our likelihood of other unhappy developments (such as job loss or adverse health events). Criminal victimization is simply a risk we take out of context and often far out of proportion. Ten years later, during a global pandemic, this tendency has only become more dramatic.
In practice, this can increase unwarranted or even simply false allegations of misconduct. If you believe that you stand unfairly accused of a crime, call the Lento Law Firm right away at 888-535-3686. We can help you understand what to do next, and in many cases, help you protect your rights.
This is part two of a series. To read the first post, visit here.