…leading the list of people not to be trusted are men — especially men you don’t know. When it comes to abductions and murders committed by strangers, men…compose the majority of perpetrators. But! Of all murders of children under twelve, more than 60% are committed by family members, 55% of whom are women. Overall…a child has a greater chance of getting killed by a female relative than by a strange man.

Throwaway Dads

That quote is stunning to me. It came at the middle of a significant breakdown of crimes against children, revealing that much of the hysteria that has swept the country since the 1980s is massively overblown. By breaking down the oft-cited statistic that “1.5 million kids are abducted every year” into categories like ‘kids who were kept away from their custodial parent by their noncustodial parent’ and ‘kids who disappeared for a couple of days, but turned out to be having an unannounced sleepover at a friends’ house’, the authors poke a huge hole in our national fear of strange men.

…of the 114,600 [family abductions]…only 3% were actual abductions. The rest — more than 110,000 — were only attempts…”Abduction” means detaining a child for more than an hour; the unauthorized taking of a child into a building or a vehicle; carrying a child more than twenty feet; or luring a child for the purpose of committing another crime. Fewer than 300 incidents [per year] were actual abductions by strangers, or what the Department of Justice refers to as “Stereotypical kidnappings”. Of these, about 100 end in murder — a horrifying number, but less than one tenth of one percent of [the original] 114,600.

So let’s logic this a little bit. The big nasty crime that we’re all so paranoid about that we tell our children not to talk to strange men and we have security cops at the schools checking men’s photo IDs at the doors…happens to 300 kids each year? That’s literally 5% of the number of people killed each year by falling down. Heck, it’s only 2/3rds of the number of people who die each year falling out of bed.

Seriously. Sleeping in a bed is statistically 450% more likely to kill you than being abducted by a stranger. And it’s not like all of this man-hate is just innocent, either. It hurts us — all of us, parents and non-parents, mothers and fathers — but it hurts men disproportionately, because we’re the ones everyone is afraid of for no great reason.

It’s very much like fear of flying — we all know by now that flying is one of the safest ways to travel, but the media loves nothing more than a great wad of corpses all linked to a single easily definable event. Or, in the case of kidnappings, all linked to a single easily defined group of people — even when that group of people didn’t do anything to deserve it.

Remember, pre-teens are more likely to be killed by a female relative than a male stranger — or a male relative — or a female stranger. Think about that long and hard the next time you decide to ask that guy in the hoodie what he’s doing slinking around the edge of the playground. Chances are pretty good he’s a dad — and exceedingly small that he’s actually up to no good.