Barry Glassner, a sociologist, documented just how overblown our fear of kidnapping in the 1980s really was in his important book, “The Culture of Fear.” He also wrote extensively about how the media is a fun-house mirror on reality. In an interview, he said that “when we watch national TV news…[we see] a distorted view of the nation and the world in which we live. It is distorted, in particular…in the direction of making the community, the nation and the world appear much more dangerous…than is actually the case.”
This is particularly pernicious when it comes to children. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the greatest killer of kids in the United States is unintentional injuries, and these are largely determined by socioeconomic factors like access to safe vehicles, health insurance, and exposure to unsafe environments.
Large-scale social inequality is never labeled the “monster.” But strange men in vans and angry teenage boys – statistical abnormalities – are over and over again.