Are You Raising a Child in One of the Most Dangerous Cities in America?

Most dangerous cities in America
This is the most dangerous city in America?

One of the reasons I am inclined to believe in something akin to reincarnation is because I can remember being 6 years old and wanting to live in New York City, even though I had no idea what New York City was.  I’d never been there, never really seen pictures of it, but I knew that was going to be the place for me.  I’m from a small town upstate, so when I actually moved to New York City as planned, my parents weren’t exactly thrilled.  My Dad used to say stuff like, “I don’t know how you can stand livin’ in that crime-infested, rape-filled, rat-hole of a concrete jungle hell.”  (And that’s the edited version.)  I tried to explain to him that New York is much safer than most people think, but he refused to come visit, so he was much more comfortable with the vision of the city that cemented in his mind during the 70’s, when New York actually was a kind of scary place to be.  But thanks to Mickey Mouse and Rudolph Giuliani, parts of New York City these days are down-right quaint.

That’s right – on a list of the most dangerous places to live in the USA based on crime statistics published by the FBI, NYC ranked 269th out of 400.  Impressive!  But listen up New Yorkers, before you get too excited.  The crimes considered in the rankings include murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, and motor vehicle theft.  If the rent being too damn high and robbing kids of a quality education were included, Gotham might be much closer to the top of the list.

So what are the most dangerous cities in America?

1. St. Louis, MO
2. Camden, NJ
3. Detroit, MI
4. Flint, MI
5. Oakland, CA
6. Richmond, CA
7. Cleveland, OH
8. Compton, CA
9. Gary, IN
10. Birmingham, AL
11. Baltimore, MD
12. Memphis, TN
13. New Orleans, LA
14. Jackson, MS
15. Little Rock, AR
16. Baton Rouge, LA
17. Buffalo, NY
18. New Haven, CT
19. Hartford, CT
20. Dayton, OH
21. Kansas City, MO
22. Washington, DC
23. Newark, NJ
24. Cincinnati, OH
25. Atlanta, GA

I went to college near Buffalo, NY, and while I’m not surprised that it has a high crime rate, I am surprised it’s the 17th most dangerous city in the United States.  But of course we’re talking about the inner-city, not the suburbs, where most people in the area who have children live.  As far as the tri-state area goes, New Haven, Hartford and Newark are no surprise, though I still find it strange that the home of Yale University is so troubled.  (Also, if heartthrob mayor Cory Booker has his way, Newark may soon be off this list.  OMG call me Cory!)  I’m sure DC’s presence here is no shock to anyone, nor the one-two punch of Detroit and Flint.  Atlanta makes sense to me, too, since the last time I was there I got accosted by a homeless man who was, uh, happy to see me and asked me if I was going to hit him over the head with a broken beer bottle when I really just wanted directions to the birthplace of Dr. King.

Some cities on the list that are unexpected for me are Dayton and Cincinnati; a few years ago I spent the summer doing theatre in a small town nestled between the two, and I visited both quite a few times.  They seemed terribly safe to me.  Baltimore is a lovely town (the Inner Harbor is a tourist paradise and Fell’s Point is one of the cutest places I’ve ever been), but it’s pretty famously seedy.  I was in Birmingham for but a day, and I haven’t been to Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi or Tennessee.  Both Kansas City and St. Louis are on this list, so I don’t know what’s going on in Missouri.  If only the whole world could be like Branson, no?  (The answer to that question, by the way, is no.)

On a side note, Gawker reports that a NATO commander recently said kids in Kabul, Afghanistan are probably safer than those in NYC, despite the fact that civilian deaths are soaring in the region.  Time to think again, sir!  The only car bombs New York City kids might even remotely be aware of are in the Irish pubs on the Upper East Side.

Do you live in one of the most dangerous cities in America?  If so, how do you feel about raising kids there?  Do you think your town has a bad rap for no good reason?


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