Fear mongering: how susceptible are you?

Reply Wed 25 Jun, 2008 08:56 am
When, if ever, was a time when you seriously changed your life based on a crime story you saw on the news?

In the parenting forum we have often discussed how easy it is to become afraid for your child based on a story from half a world away. It ususally comes up in conversations about how much freedom to allow your child. Someone will report a horrifying incident "in the next town over" or even "in my neighborhood" and, because we know this person we relate it to our own life.

But the whole idea really stuck in my head today because of cjsha's thread "Why YOU should get a gun -- and PRACTICE" in which he relates a truly tragic story of two men being killed over a $2.00 theft.

This got me thinking about who and what we might allow to control our decisions of how to spend our money (buy a gun), our time (practice) and our daily lives (lock your kids in the house and never let them out of your sight).

If you know the person relating the story does it make you more fearful?

If it happens in your state? Your town? Your neighborhood? Is distance even a factor?

Do you watch any of the 24 hour news channels? Does it make you feel better informed or more fearful?

Have you ever changed your behavior based on a crime story? (I'm specifying crime story because just about everyone has changed their behavior based on some kind of health story.)


Please note I'm not trying to pick on cjsha here, it was his post that finally motivated me to ask after seeing the ideas discussed briefly elsewhere.
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Reply Wed 25 Jun, 2008 09:33 am
Having worked in the crime area, I am always highly sceptical of reporting of ANYTHING, and especially of sensational crime stories.

I am also very much of the mind that **** happens, and worrying about which **** is gonna happen in your life, once you have taken reasonable precautions, isn't worth the drama.

That being said, I recall reading in a local crime watch story once that thieves in my area (an area full of old, big houses) were making a practice of coming in the back door when owners were in front rooms, and snatching stuff. I made a practice of locking my back screen door after reading that.

Also, I happened to discover from reading crime statistics that bag-snatching had become common in my area...so, when I went out walking, I made a practice of carrying no bag on most occasions, and having no visible means of carrying money. Of course, when I NEED a bag, I do carry one.

Working where I do, I also hear a lot about real crimes against kids, as a result of which I always check toilets (especially disabled ones...where a number of enterprising paedophiles learned that they could lie in wait, as it were) if a child I am with is going to use them. Anywhere. This can be a little embarrassing if the child is a boy, and insists on using the Mens'!

I also check any hidden areas within, or behind, play equipment in playgrounds, based on methods I know were used to assault kids in very public places and very quickly.

That sort of action seems to me to be reality-based, easy to do, and not especially restrictive, and can be done without fuss or making myself or, when it involves kids, the kid, overly fearful, that it is worth doing....like checking oil etc on a car.
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Reply Wed 25 Jun, 2008 09:57 am
I tend to be too much the opposite.

My wife, however, takes such stories quite seriously. And so our house is
far more secure than it would be if only I were living there.

One thing she will not allow is a gun in the house. No way, no how. Nor
would she carry one.
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Reply Wed 25 Jun, 2008 10:09 am
I think the dogs buried my submachine gun somewhere . . . anyway, i don't remember which particular panic attack lead me to acquire it . . .
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Reply Wed 25 Jun, 2008 10:12 am
I am coming to the point of seeing how I have been 'fear mongered' myself.
most of it my doing, some not.

Since I dont watch tv, I can not point the finger at news stories.. and because of that I have created my own fears in my head.

And now I look around and realize that my daughter hardly PLAYS outside.
We dont go to parks. She has to hold my hand almost everywhere and I chastize myself as if I am a bad parent for letting her walk through the isle at the grocery store to go pick out her own apples.

re-evaluation sucks. But it is proving to be worth it
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Bi-Polar Bear
Reply Wed 25 Jun, 2008 10:20 am
I've BEEN shot.... robbed... knifed....beat up.... but I always figured it's because I choose to be in a profession where alcohol and late nights abound...and it was rampant in the neighborhood I grew up in....however I am about as unfearful of crime as it gets. I go about my business and if **** happens.... well it does.

I too, have never been allowed by squinney to have a gun in the house but now that the cubs are gone, I will probably acquire a double barreled sawed off to the legal limit shotgun. I don't want to have to shoot anyone.... but if I do... I want to be sure they die.

Life's too short to worry about all the many things, people and circumstances that can hurt or kill you.
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Reply Wed 25 Jun, 2008 10:24 am
I hear of a crime and ask myself if that occurence is apt to happen to me in my life.

I shake my head sometimes when I hear people being interviewed by the news media.

For example, a co-ed get kidnapped by her boyfriend and killed. Very tragic, no denying it.

However, the young woman being interviewed seems to invariably say she "No longer feels safe in this area, and I'm going to move"


Will that keep her boyfriend from kidnapping and killing her?

What if she moves to an area where she ends up getting hit by a drunk driver, or shot?

People, it seems, do not do a very good job at assessing where the risk is coming from.

In the above case, perhaps the girl wouldn't be dead if she hadn't taken up with a controlling lunatic. That's more likely than the fact she lived on Elm Street.

I am careful, I am secure. However, I don't fear arbitrarily.

That is, actually, why I don't fear having a gun in my home. It's not going to jump up and shoot me. I know anyone I find in my home that isn't supposed to be there is a clear and present danger, and will be shot if they don't make an immediate escape upon seeing my weapon.

I think a lot of people (not all) who are against having a gun in their home (as is their right, and I would never try to convince them otherwise) have that misplaced fear, like the fear of someone else's boyfriend/kidnapper/killer.

Basically, I ask myself if there is a reason for me to personally fear something.
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Reply Wed 25 Jun, 2008 11:03 am
Interesting, thought provoking replies, all. Thank you.

Fear can be useful - the checking the oil in your engine analogy is perfect - a little caution goes a long way. Paying attention is important.

It is just so easy for that caution to snowball into "I don't feel safe here anymore, I'm moving away" or buying a gun just in case I happen upon someone stomping a baby, or... really.... anything.

I confess that A2K member agrote's post make me fearful to the point where I have considered taking down every photo I have ever posted anywhere on the internet even though there is no way they could be construed as porographic.

Knowing that there are people out there who thinks the way he does makes me fearful. It isn't rational but there it is.

I think the fear is knowing that yes, **** happens, sure it does, but once it happens it can't be undone.
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Reply Wed 25 Jun, 2008 11:34 am
I don't think I've ever seriously changed my life for any sort of story. Maybe change a small thing or become more aware of things around me. I think it would be more likely if it was something close by. For example, a rapist in the neighborhood - I'd probably be more cautious about being by myself, locking my doors, setting the alarm. I know when a couple of children were approached by a man trying to get them in the car near my daughters' school, I made sure I had a heart to heart talk with them about it and how to be careful.

Often times these big crime stories are so unlikely and rare and random, whatever you do isn't going to make a difference.

I do remember though shortly after 9-11, my husband got so angry and wanted to do something, he had seriously thought about re-enlisting in the Marines. And I almost wanted him - sort like yeah go get them bastr*ds. But then you realize the reality of the situation.
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Reply Wed 25 Jun, 2008 01:39 pm
I keep my balcony screen door and all the windows in my apartment wide open 24/7 except for those times when the temps are over 90 or under 50. If I hear news reports of burglaries or prowlers in the city neighborhoods near me I'll comfort myself for a few days by closing the sliding door and putting poles in the windows to block them from being opened more than a couple inches. That doesn't last long though. I usually go back to having everything wide open again a few days later. I am vigilant, will keep an eye on things and investigate sounds that are out of place, but I refuse to live in a closed up box with canned air conditioning because of the small chance some idiot might decide to invade my space.

To increase my sense of a safety zone/comfort zone while living alone in my apartment, I just keep several hefty baseball bats around my apartment. I have one by my bed, one in the kitchen and one under the couch in the livingroom. I figure (probably falsely) I can use them to defend myself or make enough noise banging walls and bashing out windows to attract attention to get help if I need it. I have the balcony lined with planters so it isn't all that easy to noiselessly climb onto the balcony and not knock over or fall over something, and my kitchen window (which also faces the balcony) is blocked by homemade shelving with knicknacks and plants that someone would easily knock over if they tried to enter.

For the most part we have a pretty good group of families in this apartment complex. Idiots don't get much of a chance to set down roots here and make trouble. Last Fall some guy beat up his girlfriend in her apartment and the men in the complex dragged him out into the parking lot and kept him immobile until the police arrived. They spent the waiting time taking the guy's inventory and telling him he needed to find another place to live. He took their advice.

Three months ago some idiots moved in and thought it was great fun to have noisy beer parties with large groups of their friends out in the parking lot every night after midnight. After months of complaints the last straw was last week when they decided to do donut circles with their cars in the parking lot for an hour in the middle of the night. A bunch of us stood out there taking pictures, writing down license plates and vehicle descriptions then reported it to the police. Next day I collected the evidence and signatures from 12 families on a letter I wrote demanding the apartment management do something about the situation. The idiots are finally being evicted this weekend.

The group of people in this apartment complex have changed my life for the better when it comes to crime. I'm not afraid to speak up about neighborhood grievances anymore because there is a group of people here that look out for each other and are willing to stand up with each other and do something about it.

Not sure if all that's a deterent, a false sense of security, or just dumb luck. But so far, it's working.
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Reply Wed 25 Jun, 2008 04:51 pm
Ya know, I used to live like that until I met my husband.

Doors open. Never locked unless over night , or cold, or hot or I was going to be gone for a while...

I always had the idea that my child would be outside freely like I was when i was young.

I never worried too much about other people.. what they were doing, how they were doing it..
To a certain extent I lived with blinders and I liked it.

I met him and he is the type of person who .. not meaning to.. but will work up the smallest situation.
for example, Jillian couldnt take a bath by herself because she could slip on a little toy, hit her head and fall under water and drown because we would not hear her. THen she could stay there for an hour possibly and we could miss all chances of helping her. Then we would have to move because we could not live here after that and we would have to adjust our income to support therapy. You dont want to do with out therapy do you ? Then were would we go ? I need to change my job... blah.. blah..blah..blah....

And it would start because she was a little baby, about a year and a half and I would go get some water while she was in the tub. In her safety seat, tied to the side of the tub.

When i first met him, this drove me nuts because I thought he had issues with paranoia.
After all this time I have begun to listen to him and even sound like him.

Like i said re-evaluation sucks.

I complain about where we live, but honestly, it isnt that bad.
I could keep my windows open, but mr paranoid wont have it. Not to mention it gets over 90 in this uninsulated place quickly.
When he isnt around, windows are open, fans are going, door is open and people are talking to us. Things are normal when you act normal I think..

yes. crime happens. All the time.
But Im coming to the 'end of my rope' in allowing it to stop me from having the home I want, and being comfortable in the place I live..
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Reply Wed 25 Jun, 2008 05:46 pm
A simple tale, in that I once took a trip with my husband to a european city and was warned of street thieves in guidebooks. I paid enough attention that in the big cities, given that first time I shone out as a tourist or at least traveller, I did wear one of those odious neck bags and, next trip, waist thing, or maybe vice versa, I hated them both, carrying only a small purse with just about nothing in it. (A friend on a trip of her own some years later had her back snatched and she held on to it, fell, messed up her shoulder. I can't remember if she kept the bag or not, think not.)

My wearing those stupid bag things was good, since I was street thieved three times, one of them almost funny re my own situation, and was spit in a failed attempt on the last one, on my last trip, in Florence. The last trip I wore a suit that had inside pockets, better than the tourist neck sacs.

I did read more after that first trip, and learned of various conditions re all this going on, but also picked up, even during the first visit, that it was a pattern of the city life and started to watch with interest. (Story - at one busy circular intersection, Pyramide, a woman lying on the road with her arm out into traffic. Woman getting up and moving to other side of the circle, lying down...) At no time did I feel in real danger, and on reading got a broader apprehension of a serious situation. I'm following recent anti immigrant actions in Naples and Rome, for example, plus of course the escapades of Berlusconi.

I also lived in a neighborhood that was red-lined and gang covered, though not right at the precise heart of it. Over a couple of decades it yupped up, architectured up, but was also many of those years, uh, iffy. We had serious and useful neighborhood watch groups. They pretty much worked, though I'll admit that was allied with general trends re the place as 'ok' as time passed.

However, if I lived in the heart of trouble, and since I know people who have, like my husband (he and his parents lived through home invasion), I'll attest that some fear is plain old legitimate.
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Green Witch
Reply Wed 25 Jun, 2008 06:07 pm
I once dated a NYC cop and he told me plenty of scary stories. He also told me how most people end up having their own guns turned against them. He mentioned that most criminals attack women from behind, so the victim would never have a chance to defend herself with a gun. He said he had seen more children shot by guns left lying around or by stray bullets than he had ever seen children protected by guns. He felt the general public would be better off not having guns, especially since the majority of suicides and accidental shootings happened when guns are a part of a household. I have a hunting rifle that is very dusty, since I haven't used it for over 10 years. I get no thrill just making a big stinky noise with it. I don't understand why some people do. We last used the rifle to scare a bear away from our caged rabbits. I've since discovered I can get the same results by banging some pots and pans together.

I sometimes wonder if this obsession with guns some people have is a form of mental illness, sort of like people who have fetishes. Somehow it does not seem healthy. These people seem more fearful and insecure than the general public. I'm sure we will be hearing from some of those very folks shortly.
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Reply Wed 25 Jun, 2008 06:10 pm
boomerang wrote:
I confess that A2K member agrote's post make me fearful to the point where I have considered taking down every photo I have ever posted anywhere on the internet even though there is no way they could be construed as porographic.

I have had the exact same thoughts, and I certainly will be a lot more cautious now in regards to posting pictures in general.

We take so many things for granted until we lose them.
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Reply Wed 25 Jun, 2008 06:12 pm
Well, shewolfnm, there are parks and parks. Kills me what is happening - recent LA Times article on how they are closing down a city pool at 109th because of thug takeover - as I have some education and some much smaller experience in park and playground design, nothing to brag about, more to explain that I've designed defensive bathrooms, and so on. So disheartening to be constrained by the abilities of vandalism/rage. I refuse to think the majority of people need to destroy, but sometimes...
This destructive mode goes on not just in inner city caldrons but with bored and resentful people elsewhere.

My first job while in landarch school was as a general helper for a firm that did a major redesign of the parks in LA's Skid Row. That was a while ago. Talk about batting their heads against the wall...

On the other hand, I do hope to go to the Gallegos park some week day in the fall...
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Reply Wed 25 Jun, 2008 06:12 pm
Green Witch wrote:
I sometimes wonder if this obsession with guns some people have is a form of mental illness, sort of like people who have fetishes. Somehow it does not seem healthy. These people seem more fearful and insecure than the general public. I'm sure we will be hearing from some of those very folks shortly.

Oh yes we will. I would not allow a gun in my house, nor would I ever
use one.
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Reply Wed 25 Jun, 2008 06:47 pm
Boomer, I have almost pm'd you about that, but have not wanted to put my possible paranoia on to you. I don't really know which way you or others should go, a tough call.

I had a situation I may have posted about slightly before. I'll put this vaguely. A photographer with us wanted to include a non porn photo of a girl that was part of his familial friend group in his show. I had already lost power within the partnership, and the photographer was also a well meaning supporter.

I'm probably more cynical than most here, but the cynicism doesn't go to the obvious person, the photog - whom I accuse of nothing - but I worried about the consent thing. There was consent, including by her as I remember.

There are surrounding circumstances re dominance in a business partnership, long story, and the need to get shows and support.. too thick and complicated to go into.

I am reluctant to dump on my business partner and I by then understood her, and she genuinely at that moment dismissed my qualm. It was not porn at all and was a beautiful photo.

As it was, after a bit the photo was in the second gallery and then in the stack.

I bring this up not against either of them, but re me, that I didn't bellow more.
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Reply Wed 25 Jun, 2008 07:00 pm
remember my "nude children" thread... ? where I was feeling a bit on the fence about posting a photo of Jillian that shown only her butt cheeks..

that thread, in less then one month on this board had only 22 or so responses, and almost 10,000 hits.

simple non revealing photos are safe.
As I said to agrote..Any nasty person can see a childs face in a grocery store and technically take that image, that face, that one sight home with them..
and no one will know.
If all pedophiles stopped there.. we parents would not be so uncomfortable.

But it is the actions of them that make us so..

but.. this isnt the place for that kind of discussion..
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Reply Wed 25 Jun, 2008 07:13 pm
I had a gun in my house for years, the same one that was in the closet during the house invasion of my husband and his parents, with the guys with apparent loaded guns.

Back before I met my husband and his history, I inherited my father's hunting guns, perhaps his father's. As in old. I took them to Abercrombie and Fitch in Beverly Hills, now there was a trip, I just then had my first car..and they bought them. I assumed I was being stupid but didn't care.
My only minor regret is that I didn't take a snapshot of them.

I surely don't mind that my father hunted, fished, sailed, was bitten by a dead shark, and so on, but that was him, whom I do respect.

Nothing would make me have a gun in my place again.

So, when I was first with my husband before that marriage word when we lived together for what, three years, he used to watch his back in the beginning. Really, just walking down the street. Being with me was being in a strange land for him, and not just re me. He semi freaked in a certain market.

Decades passed, gotta say, this is a city smart and sophisticated man.

Our situation is timeless, in that people move on, sometimes with resentments and fondness.
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Reply Wed 25 Jun, 2008 07:18 pm
Yes, this is a different discussion but it was one of his posts, from about a year ago, that convinced me that it was completely unnecessary to have my web site linked through A2K. I don't conduct business through here.

Now the only place to get my web address is from my business cards. Still, I get a lot more hits than I give out business cards so I don't know.

But that's neither here nor there.
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