Americans' biggest fears include walking alone at night, school shootings

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Americans' biggest fears include walking alone at night, school shootings
Louisville Metro Police officers gathered outside the front of Fern Hill High School following the shooting. (WDRB)
Students gathered outside Fern Hill High School. (WHAS)
Students being led from Fern Hill High School by police. (WHAS)
Students walking from Fern Hill High School school with their hands over their heads, neither is considered a suspect. (WHAS)


Americans have many fears and worries, but what tops the list may surprise more than a few.

A recent survey found that U.S. citizens most fear walking alone at night and 35 percent report feeling only "somewhat safe." A majority of people feel violent crimes have risen in the past few decades.

Researchers from Chapman University quizzed 1,500 people earlier this year in an effort to determine society's biggest fears.

Other top items included becoming the victim of identity theft, staying safe on the internet, being the victim of a mass/random shooting and public speaking, the study revealed.

"What initially lead us into this line of research was our desire to capture this information on a year-over-year basis so we can draw comparisons with what items are increasing in fear as well as decreasing," lead researcher Christopher Bader said in a news release.

Violent crimes have nearly halved since 1993, dropping from almost 800 reported per 100,000 people that year to just under 400 in 2012, according to FBI crime statistics.

Despite this dramatic drop, nearly 57 percent of Americans fear child abduction, 64.4 percent are afraid of gang violence, almost 60 percent are scared they will be victims of sexual assault and just under 83 percent are afraid of school shootings.

Another 63.2 percent are afraid of pedophilia and 65.7 percent are scared of human trafficking, the study said.

"A majority of Americans not only fear crimes such as child abduction, gang violence, sexual assaults and others; but they also believe these crimes (and others) have increased over the past 20 years," Edward Day told WTOP.

Day led the crime research and analysis portion of the study.

People who watched television talk shows were found to be more likely to have personal safety fears than people who did not, according to the study.

Lesser levels of education also consistently led to more fears, researchers said.

Other fears included clowns, tight spaces and blood.

Model Tyra Banks, herself a former talk show host, was famously afraid of dolphins.

Dolphins somehow did not crack the list of Americans' biggest fears.

The Best Way to Get Over Your Fears

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