Your fear of crime could be protecting you

Aug 19, 2014

Credit Wikipedia

Are you afraid of crime? Are your children afraid of crime?

If the answer is yes, Chris Melde says that’s not a bad thing. In fact, your fear could be what keeps you out of harm’s way.

Melde is an associate professor of criminal justice at Michigan State University. His study of fear has been published in the journal Justice Quarterly.

Melde says fear of danger is a natural instinct to remain vigilant in the face of potential danger.

“If adolescents have a healthy fear of crime, it’s really an indication that they are likely to take precautionary behaviors,” Melde said.

These kids would avoid situations like parties with drugs and alcohol, hanging out where there is no adult supervision, or hanging out with delinquent peers -- all of which are known risk factors for violent victimization and violent offending.

He said in his piece that there is a "victim offender overlap." The population most at risk for being violently victimized are people who are likely to victimize other people.

Melde said that when talking about fear of crime, it is not merely a comparison of people who are fearful and people who are not fearful.

“We are really talking about a kind of continuum of people’s anxieties about being victimized,” Melde said. “People with a really low level of fear are actually more likely to put themselves in harm’s way and have a higher rate of victimization.”

*Listen to the full interview with Chris Melde above.