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On Memorial Day, ABC News aired a special about fear in America. Their focus was how the constant presentation of violence is bringing about a state of fear in America. With the constant threat of terrorism, isolated incidents like the shootings at Trolley Square, the violence that leads the evening news, and admittedly the newscasts here on KSL Newsradio, I think it’s easy to get the wrong impression. Since some sort of violent crime will lead the morning news casts once or twice a week, it’s easy to believe your next trip to the grocery store could lead to bodily harm – but this is no the case.
As a Martial Arts instructor, I get ask to teach a lot of Self Defense courses, and I often find women and girls who are truly scared for their personal safety. While this makes for good business for me, it also disgusts me because of my role in helping to create that feeling of fear. So, in this blog, I’m hoping to pay some penitence and hopefully ease the possible fears of some listeners.
The first thing I would like to relate are some facts from the FBI’s criminal statistics report, (which is available online.) I’m using numbers from 2005 since those are the last complete set of statistics available. In 2005, the population of Utah was 2,469, 585. The FBI reports a total of 5,612 violent crimes for that year. That means the average Utahan had a 0.002272% chance of being the victim of a violent crime. That’s a pretty low number. Just as a reference, violent crimes include Murder, Rape, Aggravated Assaults and Robberies. The numbers prove you have a much greater chance of being involved in a severe traffic accident than being a victim of a violent crime.
But, there are some other numbers about crime that may interest you. In 2005, there were 56 murders. That means the average Utahan had a 0.000023% chance of being murdered. Of those murders, only 36% were women (a total of 20,) and nearly 79% of the victims knew their attackers. So the chance that the average Utahan is going to be killed by some stranger is so small, it’s not even worth figuring out. While the rate of Rape is slightly higher than murder (0.000373%,) it’s still such a small percentage that it’s hardly worth mentioning.
So, even though the old adage of “If it bleeds, it leads still holds true,” it doesn’t mean that the average person needs to worry about becoming one of those statistics. Utah is a pretty great place to live, and the vast majority of people will live out their lives here without ever encountering the violence we here in the newsroom seem to thrive on.