About twenty years ago, a couple were visiting NYC from another country. They went to lunch and they left their baby in the stroller outside the restaurant. I’m pretty sure the couple was publicly flogged. Americans were up in arms about this. The couple didn’t understand why the American authorities and the court of public opinion were browbeating them about child protection laws.
A few months ago, I talked about telling my 19 year old daughter that I thought it was ridiculous for her to take a train that would arrive in the middle of the night. The overwhelming majority of my American readers were right there with me. They agreed with me that her decision was not very mature. My non American readers however, had a much different outlook- they all thought that she as an adult and therefore I had no say in the matter.
Are Americans in general over protective of their children?
Do Americans baby their children more?
Or is America really more crime ridden than other places?
I really can’t answer the first two questions accurately- I know that I was involved in my daughter’s life. I also know that my daughter, as an urban child, was exposed to much more than most. Many of you have heard the stories of seeing the homeless guy shower in the sprinkler at the park, and watching drug take downs, and living around the block from the methadone clinic. People shouting at you and going to the bathroom on the corner. Taking the subway to high school and becoming a grizzled commuter at the age of fourteen…
Is there a lot of crime here? Yes. Is it more than other places? I have no idea.
I do know that when I’m walking I am really paying attention to my surroundings. I hold my purse tight wherever I am. I was on the bus and the subway this week and I felt threatened both times. What I assume to be a homeless person, who to my limited knowledge was either mentally unstable or high or both, was literally in my face yelling at me. And this was a crowded subway in the middle of the afternoon. Do you think the people get less crazy/high as the day goes on? Or are there just less other people on the train with you?
I know that someone tried to steal my neighbors motorcycle, right outside our building, in the middle of the night, right under the lights…
I know that buildings get graffitied in the middle of the night…
While crime can happen at any time of the day, doesn’t a lot of it happen at night?
At Penn Station- there is no place to sit unless you are a ticketed passenger- you must show your ticket to enter the seating area. This is because SO MANY PEOPLE just hang out at the station. While some truly have no place to go, many are drug dealers and petty criminals. Do you know how many people have been pushed onto subway tracks this year?
I could tell you that I refuse to have the app on my phone that constantly alerts you to crime in the street, because my daughter has it and it’s constantly beeping.
When I told you about how I just missed getting hit my breaking glass at Bed Bath, someone asked me if they caught the person who did it. I laughed because a brick being thrown into a window of a store might be big news somewhere, but not here. No one is reporting that story because it happens all the time and it’s just a day in the life.
Yes, I choose to live here and I love it. But it doesn’t mean that I am naïve to the things going on around me. Like I do with everything, I take precautions, I think about what’s in front of me, and I live my life. I do not hide or run away. But I make smart choices as to when and where and how I do things. I try to avoid situations that I know could be dangerous. I don’t where “nice’ jewelry if I’m getting on mass transit. I wear shoes I can run in if necessary. For the record, I’m more worried about crime than COVID. But I don’t let either run my life.
So is there “more” crime here? I don’t know. Am I careful and protective about my person when I am out and about? You bet. Do I ascertain the risk of certain things? 100%. Is there any guarantee of safety? I guarantee you not- safety is an illusion that we cling to to get us through the day. All we can do is take precautions and hope.