A Frank Writing on Frank Furedi
Crimes against children, like kidnapping and murder, are serious problems in the US and the UK. However, Culture of Fear author Frank Furedi argues in his book that the concern over crime against children in the US and the UK is overblown. In a brief passage, Furedi downplays kidnappings in the US, and child murders in the UK. Furedi uses convenient statistics to make a flimsy argument on why reactions to these issues take on “panic-like proportions” (Furedi 24). However, much of the evidence that Furedi uses to support his claims is either out-of-date, selective, or even false. The bulk of Furedi’s book was published in 1997, and the book was last revised in 2002, as of this writing. Therefore, much of the information available to Furedi at the time his book was first written in 1997 may not apply to modern times, or Furedi may not have adequately updated his research regarding his 2002 revisions to Culture of Fear. At any rate, it helps to first read Furedi’s statement on crime against children in its full context. Furedi writes:
“Anxieties regarding the threat of crime against children often take on panic-like proportions. In the USA, where FBI statistics indicate that fewer than 100 children a year are kidnapped by strangers, the public concern with child abduction is pervasive. […] The same inflated sense of danger prevails in the UK. Many parents do not believe that, over the years, the number of children murdered by strangers has remained fairly static. On average it has been five per year. A few highly publicized child murders have helped shaped the impression of such tragedies ‘could happen to every child'” (Furedi 24).
Furedi’s thesis for the paragraph was that “Anxieties regard…
…ed that between 1976 and 1994 almost 37,000 children had been murdered (Child Victimizers iv). This appalling number would have been timely enough to include in Culture of Fear, a book which was written in 1997. In fact, the Department ofJustice report states that the highest murder victim group in the US for 1994 was children in the age range of fifteen to seventeen (Child Victimizers 17). So clearly, greater concern over the safety of children is needed. But Furedi clearly is not out to write a book on why concern over crimes against children is rational. After all, that would not make for an interesting book. There is an old saying, never let the factsget in the way of a good story. Furedi clearly chooses to ignore the complete truth in order to push his own agenda, and his use of select, unsubstantiated facts casts a taint over his entire book’s credibility.