News Ltd, to its credit, publishes (on an opinion site, not in a newspaper) a call for reality in exaggerated crime reporting, and a discussion of how much damage that sort of hysteria does to the community.
Our survey shows that 32 per cent of young Victorians see crime, safety and violence as one of our country’s biggest issues, compared to 21 per cent nationally.
That’s quite a difference and a worrying one at that.
This is despite recent Victoria police crime data showing a 3.8 per cent drop in the overall crime rate in the past year, with a 14 per cent drop in CBD street assaults over the same period.
If young people are pulling back from community participation because of fears for their personal safety then the levels of trust and connection we enjoy in our society will be seriously challenged.
Take this comment from a 12 year old female respondent to our survey:
“I always watch out when I’m in public places…because after watching the news I get really scared about abuse and things like that, because some people have very sick minds.”
Or this from a 13 year old female:
“I am always worrying that when I walk home someone is going to kidnap me. Every single time I walk past a man on the footpath I feel very uncomfortable.”
They’re both truly devastating comments to read from children and completely out of step with the reality of danger in the community.
In other words (and I can’t believe News actually published this):
We have a responsibility as adults – and our media and community leaders particularly so – to recognise that inflammatory talk about crime and violence, while good for circulation figures or votes, can be detrimental to us as a society.
Now why aren’t other supposedly more responsible outlets, like the ABC and The Age, publishing views like this?