Watching Crime Shows Has Made Me A Paranoid Ninny (But It May Be A Good Thing)

Recently, I’ve increased my standard distance on the treadmill (insert back-pat here). Which is great and wonderful and all–but it also means I have even more time to try to keep my scattered brain distracted from counting down the  minutes. So lately, I’ve taken to watching the kind of shows that keep me captivated, which are crime shows. Which have also had the unfortunate side effect of turning me into an anxious mess. Though, after doing a little research, may actually be a good thing.

Of course, I know that some level of awareness as to one’s personal safety is smart–especially when you’re under 5 feet tall, as I am–but how much fear of stranger-danger is too much? Is carrying my keys between my fingers like Wolverine enough, or should I also have mace, and a small billy club?

Is my love of procedural dramas and terrible-narrated true-crime sagas actually making me a little safer?

Aside from actually stopping watching crime shows while running (which, I’m fairly sure, would hamstring my ability to go any kind of distance due to sheer boredom and lack of mental discipline), I decided that looking into crime rates might make me feel better.

It did not.

I did some research and found that, while the neighborhood I walk through to get to my gym and back is pretty busy at most times of day, it’s also a “crime hot-spot”, as outlined by the Seattle Police Department.

I also found that, in the month of July alone, in my precinct, there were 3 “rapes by force” (as opposed to what? That non-forced kind of rape?), 14 robberies, 29 assaults with some kind of weapon or “strong arm”, and 69 “simple” assaults. In one month.

According to the FBI, rapes (which, as we know, have been very narrowly-defined) are down 5% last year–but there were still 84,767 reported in the US during that year, which is about 54 per 100,000 females.  Robberies, meanwhile, are more common, with about 119 per 100,000 residents of the country. And while these may not seem like a lot, some areas of the country experience far more violent crime than others, so the odds may be higher depending on where you are.

Elsewhere in the country (and the world), many studies have been conducted to help get a handle on the rates of harassment and assault. And most of them, rather than being reassuring, are reminders of danger. For example, one small study (which is not statistically significant, but still indicative of larger trends) of New York women estimated that 1 in 10 women had been in some way sexually assaulted on the subway (which includes groping, etc.), whereas 63% reported being sexually harassed.

Maybe crime shows have actually made me as concerned for my personal safety as I should have been all along.

Do you feel safe while out and about? Do crime shows make it worse, or simply make us more aware of potential dangers? Let us know in the comments.

Image: NBC

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    • Rebecca Glass

      I don’t watch much crime shows (they’re depressing). But I’ve always been cautious, even in my younger years when dating. I guess my “trust issues” have kept me fairly safe. I try to notice everything around me, coming or going. And when I get that “uncomfortable feeling”, it’s time to leave.
      I feel safe when I’m out and about. and I will not hesitate to shout “STOP”, if a stranger approaches me in a a confined area.
      In response to your second question… I’m not sure how to answer that one. It’s up to the perception of the person who’s watching.