I found this a very interesting article! I struggle with it, though, because I don't really know how to adjust my attitudes towards safety. I honestly have no idea how to judge relative danger/risk aside from intuition/paranoia. We all know that horrible things (like internal decapitation in a 2-year-old, for example) can be rare and yet preventable enough that "why would you risk it?" And we also know that some of the most rare events have the most horrible, life-ruining consequences. So I don't really feel comfortable judging the risk based on the frequency of occurrence....but I don't know how else to know whether my worries are legit.
I think it is interesting to consider the comparison to one's own upbringing. Without going into too many details, most of my "left alone" stories (or at least the memorable ones) have bad endings. I was groped by a stranger at the public library, chased by a guy when my sister and I were walking our dog...and overall I just never felt like I was safe in my own neighborhood.
I was listening to a David Sedaris story in which he described each of his sisters being approached by a pervert in a car masturbating. He said that all of them experienced this -- at different times and by different men. This was considered practically normal when they were growing up -- like a right of passage. I think this illustrates (1) that yes, criminal behavior is nothing new, and (2) that our attitudes about what is okay for a child to experience have changed dramatically -- and not necessarily in a way that is just paranoid. Do I think young girls shouldn't have to encounter a strange man asking for directions and then see him masturbating? Yes. I don't consider it a growing experience, it doesn't build character, it's just traumatizing. Having encountered these kinds of "minor" experiences and been profoundly affected by them, I wish my parents had been a little more "helicopter" -- it a not just being kidnapped and imprisoned in someone's basement for 10 years that we want to protect our kids from.
Okay, at the risk of totally rambling, I think part of it may also be due to shows like "law and order." I remember when my freshman year roommate didn't come home one night. I totally freaked out, thinking that something horrible had happened to her and imagining the scornful detectives saying, "she didn't come home and you, what, just didn't care to alert anyone?" In hindsight I feel ridiculous -- she just spent the night in her boyfriend's dorm -- but at the time I felt like I was supposed to be in charge of her safety. I think the prevalence of violent crime on TV makes those "rare" crimes seem even more threatening.
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