Kid Density II

Below, I posted a note after my brother's comment on empty playgrounds. I believe it's mostly due to hyper-paranoia that has infected parenting. Parents buy the line that there is a predator behind every tree.

I went looking for some stats, and found this from 2002 (UCLA Bruin)
But, like last year’s “summer of the shark,” the current “summer of abduction” is more hype than fact. If parents waded through the media frenzy, they would see the number of child kidnappings by strangers has actually been decreasing in recent years. According to FBI reports, there were 115 cases in 1998, 134 in 1999, 106 in 2000, and 93 in 2001. This year, the drop has continued as 46 cases have been recorded in the first half of 2002.

As it turns out, the actual probability of a child being snatched up and murdered is about one in a million. To provide perspective lacking in the media, a child is twice as likely to fall victim to accidental shooting, 10 times more likely to drown in a backyard pool, and 100 times more likely to be seriously injured or killed on a bicycle. As Barry Glassner, a sociology professor at USC puts it, “It’s hard to imagine any serious danger to children that is less likely than kidnapping by a stranger.”
I found a national report on juvenile crime statistics which compared the two-year period from 1991-1993 to 2001-2003, and found that for kids 12-14, the rate of non-fatal victimization tanked:

Nonfatal violence –59%
Robbery –66%
Aggravated assault –69%
Simple assault –57%

And that's in a period of less than 10 years, and crime rates have been dropping for much longer than that. I'd also imaging that if you control for socio-economic level, you'd find that the victimization rate for middle class whites is almost non-existent.

Also this from the same report:
Contrary to public perceptions, NISMART–2 found that the majority of victims of stereotypical and other nonfamily abductions were teens—not younger children—and most were kidnapped by someone they knew somewhat—not by strangers or slight acquaintances. The NISMART–2 researchers point out the implications these findings have for prevention efforts, which have tended to focus on “stranger danger” and have targeted young children.
Here's one of the down-side risks (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
In 1972, 87 percent of children who lived within a mile of school walked or biked daily; today, just 13 percent of children get to school under their own power, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In a significant parallel, before 1980, only 5 percent of children were obese; today that figure has tripled, says the CDC.

The next generation of grandparents won't even need to harangue their progeny with tales of walking seven miles to school in the snow; it'll be impressive enough to say that they walked at all.
Here's the Justice Department:

It's a little hard to read, but it looks like the crime rate for young teens was about 80 in 1973, and is now down around 40--meaning that violent crimes against young teens have dropped in half since I was a kid.