What’s Wrong With The Latest Survey On How Safe Houstonians Feel?

A new Gallup survey finds Houston is near the top of a list of cities where people do not feel safe walking alone in their neighborhoods at night. Houston is in company with riverside, California, New Orleans, and Memphis — where people feel the least secure. But one local expert in social behavior says surveys like this one usually miss one important point.

The Gallup survey of nearly 4,800 people in Houston found that 38 percent of them feel unsafe walking near their houses after sundown. 

Luis Salinas is a sociology professor at the University of Houston. He holds the Gallup organization in high regard. But he says snapshot surveys like this don’t include long-term trends.

“Violent crime rates have been going down for 15 to 20 years, not just in the country, but in Houston. And, so, we need to take the long-term approach into account when we’re looking at these individual statistics.”

Salinas says one factor driving today’s feelings of insecurity is that people tend to remember bad news even after the actual danger has subsided.  He puts part of the blame for that on what people constantly hear from outside sources.

“Politicians, community leaders, and even some religious leaders sort of harp on these negative aspects that are going on — maybe for personal motive or a personal goal.”

Salinas says, as with violent crime, people to tend to think divorce and teen pregnancies happen more today than 20 years ago, when, in fact, the rates for all three have been on the decline.


David Pitman

David Pitman

Host, Morning Edition

Hi there. I’m glad you found me. Let me take a moment to answer some of the questions you might have about me and my job. I have worked as Morning Edition Host and reporter at News 88.7 since August of 2009. Previously, I hosted Morning Edition at WMFE in...

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