TOP 10 STATES FOR VIOLENT CRIME
Violent crime in this list is defined as murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault. The states were ranked with a sort to find the highest crime rates per 100,000 people in those crime categories.
4. New Mexico
5. South Carolina
Source: 24/7 Wall Street, FBI crime statistics
The FBI has released its latest statistics on violent crime in America and the dubious honor of most violent state belongs to — you guessed it — the Volunteer State.
Maybe we should blame it on the “Remember the Alamo” mentality. You’ll remember, Tennesseans were the first to go galloping off to help Texas.
That might have been romantic then, but Tuesday’s headline in countless papers worldwide was not.
Here’s one from as far away as the Daily Mail in the United Kingdom: “Fearful of violent crime? Don’t go to Tennessee, which tops the list of America’s most dangerous states.”
That’s a bit of a nightmare for the Tennessee chambers of commerce, huh?
The story adds insult to injury. “Where there is low income and low rates of education, there are higher rates of murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault, according to the numbers.”
The ranking doesn’t come from sheer number of those four crimes, but by a comparison of crime rates — the highest rates of violent crime per 100,000 residents.
Using the FBI numbers, an online financial news and opinion publication called 24/7 Wall Street made the spreadsheet comparisons. Here’s how we stacked up:
• Violent crimes per 100,000: 643.6.
• Poverty rate: 17.9 percent.
• Percent of population with bachelor’s degree or higher: 24.3.
• Property crimes per 100,000: 3,371.4 (10th highest).
The state was among the top 10 in the country for murders and robberies and was first for aggravated assaults, with an estimated 479 for every 100,000 residents. Tennessee’s 41,550 violent crimes in 2012 were up 6.8 percent from 2011 but down 10 percent from 2007, when there were 46,380 violent crimes.
There were 388 murders in the state in 2012, up for a second straight year.
Tennessee’s violence is highest in Memphis, which rates as the nation’s fifth worst city for violent crime, while Nashville’s was the 18th worst. Like many states with high violent crime, poverty in Tennessee is acute, and high school and college graduation rates are lower than most of the country. (Chattanooga is not listed in the report.)
So, in addition to ramping up lessons in reading, writing and arithmetic, perhaps Tennessee schools might add some classes on anger management and conflict resolution.
Yes, those are big, long, four-syllable words. But perhaps they might get in the way of a flying fist or another bullet.
What have we got to lose but another black eye?