The Front Page: Anxiety, fear and the psychological impact of rising crime

All eyes were fixed on Auckland last week when a gunman entered a construction site and opened fire.

This incident comes after a year dominated by negative headlines about crimes committed by young people: ram-raids, smash-and-grabs and burglaries, just to name a few.

A Herald poll earlier this year found 67 per cent of respondents felt more unsafe now than they did five years ago.

Psychotherapist and co-host of The Nutters Club on Newstalk ZB, Kyle MacDonald, tellsThe Front Page podcast that once anxiety has taken hold, it can be very sticky.

“Once we’ve had these impressions of very frightening events, even if we’re not directly impacted by them, those fearful thoughts can stick really hard, because that’s actually part of what’s kept the human species wandering around the planet as long as we have.”

MacDonald explains our rapid response to fear is a survival mechanism that’s an entirely normal part of what makes us human.

Our levels of anxiety are, however, affected by the narratives we see coming from politicians and the media.

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“There’s nothing more topical than crime in an election year, and fear is one of the most powerful ways to get people’s attention,” says MacDonald.

This is hilarious because the NZ Herald has been using its platform to terrify people since it began, it’s first editorial was calling on Pakeha Settlers to start war with Māori!

Ram Raid news stories make news producers orgasm.

They are cheap, easy to produce and present as live breaking news and the kids committing the crimes boasting on social media for notoriety guarantees a self feeding loop which terrifies the middle classes and sets the get tough on crime lynch mob off.

The perception is that crime is out of control, despite the evidence showing a spike, but in context, isn’t the hysteria clickbait the mainstream media are selling it as.

The number of serious repeat ram raiders is about 100, 80% of whom are already known to welfare agencies who are the kids from John Key’s draconian welfare reforms that saw kids in cars, state house tenants thrown onto the street for wrongful meth testing and whose parents were incarcerated in our private prison industry.

How will more draconian policies fix the problems the last set of draconian policies created?

This fear mongering clickbait is generating real world ramifications with ACT and National promising ankle bracelets on children and a return to counter productive Military Boot Camps.

The same people screaming that the mainstream media are scaring us over Covid are more than happy to promote crime clickbait by that very same media!

Youth crime has spiked and it needs actual solutions, what we are getting is just more raw meat fear mongering for ratings.

The anxiety a recession creates cancels out compassion, empathy and rational debate. As the desperation drives violent crime via a Crime Porn News filter to insecure viewers, watch how the crime debate disintegrates into lynch mob level bumper sticker slogans.

Your anger is being manipulated by the ‘Get Tough on Crime’ Cheerleaders for counter productive policy and the NZ Herald is one of the worst at manipulating you!


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