In Trinidad and Tobago, crime has always been a major topic of public and political debate. It is often seen as a sign of underlying problems in society which is related to inequality, social deprivation, social class, gender and age. Although Durkheim (1938, first published in 1895) argued that crime is an inevitable and normal aspect of life, people continue to perceive the Caribbean as a place that is growing increasingly dangerous, and these fears can have devastating consequences on citizens regardless of age or sex. Over the past few decades, crime has continued to increase in every category including murders, rapes, assaults, robberies, burglaries and thefts. These crime rates in the Caribbean have been found to be higher than in any other region of the world, and are significantly above the world average.
The media is one of the main sources of mass communication which provides us with information. Advances in technology and globalization have brought the world to one’s fingertips with easy access to the internet and other forms of mass communication. However, this rise in the development of the media has coincided with the rise in popularity of ‘criminal’ television programs, access to cable, electronic games and the internet. As such, individuals are connected to more violence and this increases fear among people based on what they have observed via the media. This is supported by O’Keefe (1987), who indicated that greater attention to televised news was related to subsequent increased fear, concern and avoidance behavior. In this situation, the public’s perceptions of behaviors or groups of persons are tainted as the media coverage greatly exaggerates their potential for harm to the larger society. This generates further anxiety and fear of crime among the population and may result in people altering their ways of life.
Fear of crime is defined as an emotional reaction characterized by a sense of danger and anxiety produced by...
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