AMERICA AFRAID: How Fear of Crime Changes the Way We Live by Inc. & Ardy Friedberg Research & Forecasts

AMERICA AFRAID: How Fear of Crime Changes the Way We Live

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A slim, lightweight (in all senses) volume ""based on"" Research & Forecasts' Figgie Report on Fear of Crime, a survey which in turn was based on 1,047 random-dialed telephone interviews with average Americans and questionnaires sent to CEOs of Fortune 1000 corporations. The purpose? ""Revealing details about how the fear of crime has affected our lives. . . may help to awaken the public to the urgent need to do something about it."" The result? An elaborate exercise in stating the obvious--people are afraid of crime. In fact: 40 percent of Americans are ""highly fearful"" of violent crime; more than half the women surveyed ""frequently"" fear rape; we exhibit both ""concrete"" fear (fear of a specific crime) and ""formless"" fear (an amorphous concern about general safety); most big-city people have concrete fear; women are more fearful than men; blacks are more fearful than whites. In response, we restrict our activities, dress down, drive older cars, take in roommates, buy dogs, buy guns. These hardly-new findings are dressed up with a truckload of statistics (67 percent of rural males own guns; etc.); short pseudonymous vignettes of people's reactions to crime (""The Robertses both say they are less inclined to go out at night. . .""); and endless quotes from ""community leaders"" and justice system professionals about what's wrong and why (""A district judge in Dallas. . . puts it plainly: 'Law enforcement can only do so much'""). This numbing verbiage culminates in a rousing call for ""leadership that will publicly declare a war on crime that exceeds the intensity of the crime wave itself, a crash program that mobilizes the best talent the country has to offer."" A packaging exercise, useful (if at all) only as a sourcebook for highschool debaters and such.

Pub Date: Feb. 24th, 1982
Publisher: New American Library