Friday, February 12, 2010

It's a Secret....Shhhh!

I have told a select amount of friends about my plans to move to Belize. Most of them are outwardly supportive but inwardly sceptical. Now you may be thinking 'Barmy Belle, you are being paranoid'. This is not out of the realm of possibility, but I don't think so. And I can see why they are. The being self-sufficient and earning a living from my writing is the hardest part for people to swallow.
I will do it. The proof is in the pudding. And the pudding is going to take 3-5 years to make!
The thing I most trepidatious about is telling my parents. Thankfully they won't have to know for at least another year. I have great parents. But unfortunately, they are worriers. They have always been worriers. But since my brother passed away, the intensity of their worrying has increased. My brother passed away about 18 months ago. So I'm going to give them a bit more time to process.
It's not as if I'm not guilty about worrying about them. They're getting older. But they are thankfully healthy. And I hope that continues to be the case.
So, as  pre-emptive strike against some of their objections I have decided to do a little research. I know that they will be worried about the crime. I don't know if anything I found out will salve their stress, but it may.
Okay, the first thing I discovered about Belize is that it does have a high crime rate. And a high murder rate.  But according to the Crooks Report 'Annually between 45% to 50% of all murders are committed in Belize City.'  
According to a statistical presentation there were 97 murders in Belize last year. If 50% of all murders are in Belize City, then the rest of Belize has a murder rate of 20.23/100,000. This is based on the assumption that Belize City has a population of 70,800 and the population of Belize is 310,520.
This fact is supported, to an extent, by a statistical presentation on the Belizean government website. Below is a portion of the statistics reproduced from that presentation (click on image to view full size):

The population section was added by me from internet searches. If the information in inaccurate, my apologies.
There are many, many places with higher murder rates. The ten worst cities to live in Europe and the USA:



PER 100,000

(1) Washington, D.C., USA 69.3
(2) Philadelphia, USA 27.4
(3) Dallas, USA 24.8
(4) Los Angeles, USA 22.8
(5) Chicago, USA 20.5
(6) Phoenix, USA 19.1
(7) Moscow, Russia 18.1
(8) Houston, USA 18.0
(9) New York City, USA 16.8
(10) Helsinki, Finland 12.5
(11) Lisbon, Portugal   9.7
(12) San Diego, USA   8.0
(13) Amsterdam, Netherlands   7.7
(14) Belfast, N.Ireland, UK   4.4
(15) Geneva, Switzerland   4.2
(16) Copenhagen, Denmark   4.0
(17) Berlin, Germany   3.8
(18) Paris, France   3.3
(19) Stockholm, Sweden   3.0
(20) Prague, Czechoslovakia   2.9

Which gives Belize about the same murder rate as number 5 on the list; Chicago, Illinois.
But I live in Alberta, Canada. And the murder rate in Canada is pretty low:



PER 100,000

(1) Regina 4.72
(2) Saskatoon 4.39
(3) Sudbury 4.00
(4) Edmonton 3.50
(5) Vancouver 3.45
(6) Montreal 3.40
(7) Winnipeg 3.05
(8) Calgary 2.60
(9) Toronto 1.80
(10) Hamilton 1.70
(11) Halifax 1.25
(12) St. John's 0.00

But then again, stats are easily skewed. I grew up in a small town, population 1200. When I was growing up, one of my school friends’ Dad went berserk and killed his family and killed a local preacher and his wife. Then he killed himself. A total of 6 people killed.
So the stat for my small town for that year would be a murder rate of 500 per 100,000 people. Is that a way to manipulate numbers? Well, yes, it is a very extreme example, but it just illustrates how stats are not always the true picture.
Also another point on crime statistics. Statistics are only as great as the people who report them. I mentioned before that I lived in Salford, Greater Manchester, England. And that I also lived in Kingston, Jamaica. I lived in the U.K. for 10 years and had my house broken into twice. My car was broken into several times. I never reported any of them to the police because we didn't have insurance (that covered theft) and there wasn't any hope of anything but a report being filled. The police had more important things to do. They didn't have the resources to investigate petty crime. They were overworked and under funded.
I don't know if Belizeans report crime every time, or not....
I don't know if this will help my parents, but it has clarified a lot of things for me. I wasn't too concerned about the crime rate before, but after doing an in depth study, it has opened my eyes. Not deterred, just a little more informed.

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