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Media and Public Perception [Jun. 29th, 2007|02:30 pm]
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I read on the CBC website today that the latest national crime statistics find that rural areas were higher than in urban areas.

From the CBC, click here the original.
New statistics suggest overall crime rates in Canada are highest in small urban areas, perhaps debunking the assumption that big cities are more dangerous.
The overall crime rate in small urban areas — home to at least 1,000 people — was 43 per cent higher than in large urban areas with a core of at least 100,000, indicates the Statistics Canada study of 2005 crime rates that was released Thursday. Only in Quebec were crime rates higher in bigger cities.
Rates of total violent crime, total property crime and break-ins were also highest in small urban areas, while robbery and motor vehicle theft were more common in large cities, the federal agency reported.
Robbery rates for large urban areas were twice those of smaller cities and nearly 10 times those of rural areas, defined by the study as places that don't qualify as either large or small urban areas.
Keeping with a 10-year trend, homicide rates were highest in rural areas. Taking population into account, the rate of 2.5 homicides per 100,000 people in rural areas was higher than the rate of 2.0 in large urban areas or 1.7 in smaller cities.
The finding is in contrast to American statistics that show homicide rates are highest in large urban areas. A University of Pennsylvania study shows that big American cities have nearly double the firearm homicide rate of most rural areas.
In Canada, the proportion of homicides committed with a firearm was again highest in rural areas, where a rifle or shotgun was the weapon of choice. In large and small cities, handguns were more common.
Homicide, which is considered the most serious of all criminal acts, includes first- and second-degree murder, manslaughter and infanticide.
Rural areas of Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Alberta had the highest homicide rates in the country, the study suggests. In Ontario and British Columbia, rates were higher in large cities.
Of the 658 homicides in 2005 where the location was known, 427 were committed in large urban areas, 135 in rural areas and 95 in small urban areas.
Overall, the highest crime rates were reported in the small urban areas of the western provinces — British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. The lowest rates were observed in rural areas of Quebec, Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador, and New Brunswick.

I think that this shows how the media can skew public opinion. The only thing that has been accurately portrayed in the media is that hand gun violence is on the rise in urban areas in Ontario and BC; essentially Vancouver and Toronto.


From: geoffspelunker
2007-06-29 08:33 pm (UTC)
I'd be interested to see what the rate of reporting was for the various areas.
Regardless, that's an interesting point you raise about the media skewing public opinion. The media really does emphasize items of urban interest, so I guess it's no wonder why the public would more easily link high crime incidence with cities rather than taking things like the "frontier phenomenon" for granted.
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[User Picture]From: sagman
2007-07-03 06:15 pm (UTC)
At least in Canada there is one criminal code so crime reporting is done the same way across the entire country. I haven't been able to find the report on the stats can website yet. It usually takes them a month or so to put all the information into their free site. It will have the rates broken down by province etc.
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[User Picture]From: cheekybrit
2007-06-30 09:48 am (UTC)
I share some of your frustration! I generally looooathe crime reporting, especially on statistics. They create panic and spread a lot of misunderstanding. Most of the public aren't versed in research methods and can't view stats with the critical eye necessary, leaving them unable to make proper sense of what they read. They also rarely have a grasp of relevant factors such as the "dark figure" for certain types of offenses.

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[User Picture]From: sagman
2007-07-03 06:18 pm (UTC)
It is sad that there isn't an accurate interpetation of the facts in the general media. I find that the print media is much better at accurately reporting trends etc. I wonder if this is because people expect news as soon as it happens. Maybe we've become hooked on the CNN 24/7 type of news coverage.
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