America is Safer Today Than When You Grew Up

I hear it all the time.

Things just aren’t what they used to be.” 

And I correct it all the time. “Actually, did you know that every measure of crime in America is down since you grew up? Did you know that things are so much better?” 

Comparing 1975 to 1995 to 2014 Crime Stats

Screen Shot 2015-12-12 at 7.36.21 AMViolent Crime data (includes things like murder, assault, rape)

  • 1975 – 487.8 per 100,000 (source)
  • 1995 – 713.6 per 100,000 (source)
  • 2014 – 365.5 per 100,000 (source)

Screen Shot 2015-12-12 at 7.37.49 AM

Rape data 

  • 1975 – 26.3 per 100,000 (source)
  • 1995 – 37.1 per 100,000 – (source)
  • 2015 – 26.4 per 100,000 – (source)

Screen Shot 2015-12-12 at 7.38.53 AM

Property Crime data (includes burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, arson, and things like that)

  • 1975 – 4811 per 100,000 – (source)
  • 1995 – 4660 per 100,000 – (source)
  • 2015 – 2,596.1 per 100,000 – (source)


See, this is data. While the narrative, that “this country is horribly dangerous” is powerful… there’s an inconvenient truth. Our nation is so-much-better than when we were growing up.

Less murder.

Less rape.

Less kidnappings.

Less home invasions.

Less carjackings.

Less E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G.

Why Isn’t This Known?

Why is the news full of bad news when things are actually getting better? Why do people say, “I don’t want to have kids because I don’t want to bring them into this kind of world?”

Um, your community is significantly safer than the one you grew up in.

So why? 

[insert commercial break]

[insert :15 trailer for 10 o’clock news]

[insert clicking on “breaking news” on Twitter]

Because bad news sells better than good news.  






6 responses to “America is Safer Today Than When You Grew Up”

  1. Jameshooper Avatar

    While the stats are there to make a statment. However, I would ride my bike acrross the city at 10 and 11 years old. Would not let my child do that now. There are more people on the road. Cities are bigger, there are more crimes against kids today than in 1075. This is a dangerous area to depend on stats alone.

    There is a but…

    I also can understand that in 1975 we didn’t get up to date news on what is happening every minute. Social media outlets have taken our society and highlighted the dangers.

  2. Adam McLane Avatar

    @jameshooper – First, I can’t find any data about crimes against children in 1075. Apparently the dark ages didn’t fund that kind of research. (You had a typo, I’m having fun with ya)

    If you look at the data, your childhood was MUCH more dangerous than your childrens. In fact, violent and non-violent crime rates, specifically against children, are also down significantly. Here’s a study from the University of New Hampshire for your reading pleasure:

    Also worth noting… while there are less crimes against children there are less children committing crimes.

    My point is exactly your comment. The data is completely counter the narrative. We think children are more vulnerable when they aren’t. We think people are more susceptible to crime, but they aren’t. We think there’s a correlation between gun ownership and less victimization, but there isn’t.

    On and on. The media– on both sides– have fed us a lie that we not only have bought into, but we’ll defend even when confronted with data which says otherwise.

    It’s a hard pill to swallow! We live in some of the safest times in our countries history. Enjoy it.

  3. Laurie Avatar

    With all due respect, certain crime rates are WAY up, because the following crimes were (almost) non-existent in 1975: cyber stalking, cyber theft, cyber porn. Also, may I ask where this data was collected? The middle sized city that I live and grew up in has had an exponential increase in all violent crime since 1975. When I was young, if we had a murder, it made front page headlines for days. Now, there is at least one murder DAILY, and it is usually on the second or third page of the local section. Was this data collected locally, regionally, nationally or internationally? Not trying to argue, the blog info just doesn’t fit my experience.

    1. Adam McLane Avatar

      @Laurie – Every statistic is linked to it’s exact source in the post. Basically, all of it is from the FBI. If you look at the tables in the items I’ve linked to you can poke around and see that almost every jurisdiction has reported their crimes to the FBI, it lists exactly that percentage per region in each state… most are 100% reporting, some are more like 95% reporting. The data has used nearly the same methods of for decades. The crimes you mentioned fit within their respective category of violent or non-violent crime… so it’s all there, dig in the tables of data and you’ll see for yourself.

      This post is pointing out the misperception between actual crime statistics and the hyper-reporting of incidents. This can lead to people feeling as though their community is less safe than it really is, statistically speaking. All you hear about are news stories of crime. But, in reality, the instances of crime per capita is significantly down in most categories.

      When I do my recurring blog series called “Youth Pastors in the News” it’s not unusual that my Google News searches will bring up HUNDREDS of news stories about each individual instance. That’s an example of hyper-inflation of crime in the media. Certain crimes get a lot of coverage while others get basically none.

      The whole point is that we have a culture infatuated with being fearful whereas our society is much safer than it’s been in a long, long time.

  4. Mac Avatar

    Much safer when I grew up! You don’t take into consideration those of us that grew up 30 years prior to 1975. Yes, we are on social media and many of us are still employed.

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