I’ve made the crazy assertion (Here and here)that walkable cities are the place to be if you want to keep your child safe. This week, news item after news item virtually leapt off the screen at me to strengthen that argument.
The first was a report designed to get the attention of parents through their bank accounts. Did you know that adding a teen to your auto insurance policy could double your premium? I didn’t…because neither one my twenty something daughters has(needs or wants) her driver’s license. The kicker to the report was that so called rural states show the highest increases in premiums because “we know that in rural accidents, they tend to be more devastating, there are more deaths associated with accidents in rural areas”. Letting your teen drive a bigger, older car was recommended so that when they do get into an accident they are less likely to die. Living in a place where your child won’t NEED to drive? Unthinkable. Notice that the main focus of the report isn’t “your child is more likely to die” but rather “you’ll be paying more for car insurance”! No mention of the more than quarter of a million serious injuries suffered by those teens who survive accidents.
Second was a report showing not only that the overall death rate for teens was correlated negatively to density(!), but that specifically the suicide rate among teens was negatively correlated to population density as well. Suicide is the number three cause of death for teens in the United States, and the correlation to suburban, exurban, and rural living is stunning.
On the other end of the spectrum, teen homicide is at a thirty year low. I’ve written numerous times that whatever the rate of teen homicide, it is much more strongly correlated to who you are than where you are but, be that as it may, the incidence thereof continues to decline.
For many suburban parents the primary reason they’ve chosen to reside in a sprawling horizontal landscape is that they believe it will be a safer place to raise their children. The facts show that the further they run from their urban fears, the closer many of them get to a dangerous destiny for their children. It brings to mind the tragic story of Oedipus, but instead of the child unwittingly murdering his father at the crossroads, it is the parent unknowingly killing the child.