It’s one of the great dilemmas of the modern era: in poll after poll, Americans consistently say they believe our society is getting more violent and more dangerous, when the opposite is true. The results of this chronic misperception have been disastrous to U.S. communities, beginning with its cities, and now spreading to suburban neighborhoods.
To arrive at an accurate picture of misperceived violence in America, we turn to two charts. The first chronicles public opinion of violent crime from 1989 through 2014, based on Gallup polls. On this chart, the darkest green represents the percentage of Americans who believe there is more crime in the U.S. than there was a year ago. The lighter green represents the percentage of Americans who believe there is less crime, and the lightest green represents those who believe the percentage has stayed the same. Overwhelmingly and consistently, most Americans believe that crime in America is getting worse.