Crime Myths vs Crime Facts

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The crime myth that I wish to dispel in this essay is associated with violence of women in the street. The media tend to go overboard with woman’s safety in the street and this can lead to women being afraid or very paranoid of walking down the street. This is due to the media or the government using sensationalism to prey on women and sell more units or to bring a crime to the attention of the wider public through newspapers or an advertising spot on television. This is not the case when dealing with violence against women because women are more than likely to be assaulted sexually or physically by someone they know rather than by a stranger.

Crime myth refers to the reporting of an event and is transformed into a more of an interesting story. Crime myths that are portrayed into the public tend to give a view of the criminal, crime fighters, victims and the responses by society to a crime. Crime myths are guided usually by two organizations, the media and the government (Blumberg, Kappler and Potter 1993).

Development of crime myths are best exampled through the media who would rather distort the truth rather than showing the story in a truthful manner. This is known as “yellow journalism” and is used to increase profits by attracting a wider audience. This is done through television and newspapers (Blumberg, Kappler and Potter 1993). Most do not recognize that the media are commercial enterprises and are prone to sensationalism (Tulloch 1998). The Government can also induce crime myths with politicians using terms such as “the war on crime” or “we are in the midst of a crime wave”. This will frighten the public and sure up support at the same time (Lawrence 2005). The development of the crime myth can go further if there are successive incidents in a two week framework e.g. rape of women in the street by a stranger, can evoke such headlines as “streets are no longer safe for women”. This can keep the myth rolling on (Blumberg, Kappler and Potter 1993).

The media will usually use myths to sell a story in the most marketable way possible to ensue the viewers and advertising dollars are being attracted. This is done in television, radio and newspapers. The main functions of crime myths are to present basic information of the construction of crime. It is good in the aspect that it provides information to the public where otherwise they would be ill informed. One feature is that it evokes emotion within the public which may be harmful like “creating an angry mob” effect and vigilantes will arise. On the other hand it does make the public aware of an unknown or a rare crime, even though some of the information passed on may biased or giving inaccurate portrays of an event (Blumberg, Kappler and Potter 2004).

Crime facts are statistics of crime e.g. break in, and are used to measurements to compare these statistics in States and Territories. It is also an effective way to compare crime prevalence from year to year. Results in certain crimes though will not show the whole picture of the crime as some crimes will go unreported and some may be exaggerated through the changing attitude of the public towards a crime (Blumberg, Kappler and Potter 2004). Crime facts are the true measurement of crime. Although facts can be twisted and perceived to manipulate a point of view. This can be evidenced in an article named ‘Avoiding Attacks – Ex-Police Officer’s Advice to Women’ by The Daily Telegraph. In this article it states 86% are likely to be victims of sexual assault and 62 % likely to be a victim of abduction (Morris, 2004). While these figures are alarming it plays on the minds of women who become more scared than they should as they are more likely to encounter violence at home by someone they know rather than by a stranger. Contradiction of these media statistics can be evidenced from The Australian Bureau of Statistics. Within the finding of a survey conducted by the Australian...
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