Why do most Americans think crime is increasing when actually it’s decreasing?


As the charts above make clear, the perceptions of most Americans regarding crime are at odds with the reality of the situation.

The story is HERE:

Despite a sharp decline in the United States’ violent crime rate since the mid-1990s, the majority of Americans continue to believe the nation’s crime problem is getting worse, as they have for most of the past decade. Currently, 68% say there is more crime in the U.S. than there was a year ago, 17% say less, and 8% volunteer that crime is unchanged.


Gallup’s crime perception trends do show that Americans grew significantly more positive about the direction of crime between 1996 and 2001. Attitudes were the most positive in 2001, when slightly more Americans said crime in the U.S. was declining rather than increasing. This was at a time when the number of violent crimes per 1,000 people nationally had already fallen dramatically, from roughly 51 in 1994 to 25 in 2001, according to the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics. Since then, violent crime victimization has dropped an additional 40%, descending to 15 crimes per 1,000 in 2010. The trend in property crime has also declined over this period, falling by 28%.



  1. Milton Waddams

    Pretty obvious I’d say. The rise of the 24 hour news cycle.

  2. It probably has something to do with all the ” occupy” coverage.

  3. doc: Two points:

    1) If you’re saying that news coverage of the Occupy movement has been distorted, especially by the likes of Fox News, you’re right.

    2) Public misperception of crime rates predates the rise of the Occupy movement. So, that can’t be the real reason.

  4. Ann Learner

    I just found this as a link in a current piece http://www.theroot.com/views/humanifesto?page=0,2 and wonder shy the graph for vooilent crime in Wikepedia from the same source looks different from yours. they both show declines. Maybe one has a different range of violent crime included.


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