Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Threats, real and perceived

Because so much of public policy is driven by fear, it's important to have an accurate understanding of the likelihood of harm from perceived threats.

NPR's blog offers a reality check about threats to kids.
Based on surveys Barnes collected, the top five worries of parents are, in order:
  1. Kidnapping
  2. School snipers
  3. Terrorists
  4. Dangerous strangers
  5. Drugs
But how do children really get hurt or killed?
  1. Car accidents
  2. Homicide (usually committed by a person who knows the child, not a stranger)
  3. Abuse
  4. Suicide
  5. Drowning
Parents are busy worrying about all the wrong things.  It matters to all of us because parents who are worried about their children being killed by terrorists will vote in line with candidates who reflect that fear and make promises to keep them safe from terrorists, an unlikely threat.  Meanwhile, a candidate who advocates for greater spending on mental health professionals to guard against suicides, a more likely threat, will be dismissed.

(Warning: NPR's post contains not-fully explained statistics.  The threat of death for everyone is 100%.  Period.  I think the writer means "the threat of death before the age of 18..." or something like that.)

H/t Supraluxe.

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