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.