How We Learn to Fear Crime and Why It MattersNicole E. Rader
Where do lessons of “stranger danger” and safety come from—and do they apply differently for women? A gender-fear paradox shows that although women are less likely to be victims of most crimes (sexual assault aside), their fear of crime is greater. Moreover, girls and women—especially White women—are taught to fear the wrong things and given impossible tools to prevent victimization. In Teaching Fear, Nicole Rader zooms in on the social learning process, tracing the ways that families, schools, and the media have become obsessed with crime myths, especially regarding girls and women.
Based on in-depth research and family studies, Rader reveals the dubious and dangerous origins of many of the most prominent safety guidelines that teach young girls to be more afraid of crime. These guidelines carry over to adulthood, influencing women’s behaviors and the way they order their worlds, with dangerous consequences. As women teach their learned behavior and conditioned fear to others, gendered crime myths are recirculated from generation to generation, making them a staple in our society.
Teaching Fear includes suggestions for taking precautionary measures and crime prevention strategies. Rader also provides guidance for instilling safety values and demonstrating how we can “teach fear better” to break this cycle and truly create greater security.
“In Teaching Fear , Nicole Rader brings together what we know about contemporary fears of violence and victimization. She shows how our fears are created, why they take the forms they do, how they shape the lives of children and adults, and how we can approach our fears in more constructive ways.”
—Joel Best, Professor of Sociology and Criminal Justice at the University of Delaware, and author of American Nightmares: Social Problems in an Anxious World
“Can a book about gendered fear of crime be an enjoyable read? If the book is Teaching Fear , the answer is yes. Written in a highly accessible style but grounded firmly in empirical research, Teaching Fear provides a much-needed debunking of popular gendered and racialized crime myths and offers strategies for finally ending the intergenerational transmission of these false and harmful beliefs."
—Claire Renzetti, Judi Conway Patton Endowed Chair and Professor of Sociology at the University of Kentucky, and author of Feminist Criminology
"Rader tackles the connection between fearful fictions about crime in the U.S. that she believes are designed to keep women, in particular, docile and afraid, and the real issues that greatly affect not just women but all Americans.... Rader explores how these stories are inculcated in U.S. society and the consequences that result when these often racist and/or gendered myths are internalized.... VERDICT Recommended for educators, parents, and readers interested in gender identity, politics, and law."
"Rader offers a well-researched and thoughtful exploration into how it is we come to fear the threat of victimization.... (S)he highlights how crime myths are taught and perpetuated through the media, parenting, schools, and the criminal justice system.... What is important to point out, and Rader does such a great job of doing so, is how fear of crime is a gendered phenomenon, considered a 'woman’s issue.'... She encourages us to teach that we are all worthy victims of crime, regardless of our gender or race.... (Rader) offers an invaluable tool for us to learn from and use as we begin to dispel crime myths and the fears they create as we encounter an ever-changing social world."