Let’s look at some facts…
One of the concerns that many people ask us about as we travel is safety, especially regarding children. Without launching into a pointless political debate, allow me to throw out some startling statistics.
According to a 2013 Washington Post study, “The United States has the highest gun ownership rate in the world and the highest per capita rate of firearm-related murders of all developed countries.” This unacceptable figure is supported by numerous other studies and research. The bottom line, you have the best chance of being killed by a gun right here in the United States. Even the Middle East and Africa are statistically safer according to the United Nations World Health Organization in 2012.
A report by the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) published in Forbes Magazine in 2010 rated the United States in the top 10 most dangerous countries to drive in. According to the World Health Ranking in 2011, the United States had a medium rating compared to a low rating for Europe, Canada, and Australia in road safety. The report showed that the United States was actually twice as dangerous as Europe.
Well documented studies across multiple areas illustrate the obesity epidemic that the United States is facing. The American Medical Associates cites that in 2009 17.4% of children 2-19 were deemed obese and 30.6% overweight. We lead the world in obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. Furthermore, we come in 7th for cancer rates.
The United Nations World Health Organization in 2010 ranked the United States 38th in health care. Despite the best medical technology and most highly trained doctors, Americans have poor access to health care and shun preventive medicine.
The United States has one of the cleanest airs in the world. Years of environmental activism and regulations are paying off. Better, more sustainable practices are actually working.
The Columbia University’s Earth Institute ranked the United States the 14th happiest country on the planet in 2012. That is up from previous years. However, most of the northern European countries beat us.
So, you need to make an informed decision about where you go. Realize, however, that perceptions are very powerful. For example, Columbia is usually given a very bad report by the media for drug violence. However, most of the problem is confined to the southern mountain area bordering Ecuador. Cartagena on the Atlantic coast is far removed from the violence. It is over 600 miles distant. That is like saying here in Seattle, I am worried about crime in Sacramento. Also, the media over plays violence in other countries. Remember, more people are murdered in Los Angeles in any given weekend than in a year in most other countries.
A friend once told me, “The United States is the most violent country on Earth.” As an American, I found that extremely hard to swallow. After living in other countries and looking at the facts, I now tend to agree. We need to work on some things back home.