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The Safest City in America According to My 14-Year-Old Self

November 1, 2009
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Recently I posted an entry about several blog topics I’d had on my to-do list for a while but never got around to writing. At the end of that entry, I included a poll so you, trusty readers, could tell me which of those topics were interesting to you and which were not. This is one of the winning topics.

In 9th grade, I had to write my first significant research paper. I was a skittish little kid, afraid of unscary things like fireworks and roller coasters as well as actual scary things like snakes, spiders, tornadoes, and burglars. I had already decided that when I grew up, I wanted to live in the safest place in the United States.

So I had my research paper topic: Find that place. Find the city where the fewest people die every year due to crime, natural disasters, and animal attacks.

You’d be amazed at all the statistics that are gathered and maintained for those categories. Especially animal attacks. Killer bees, snakes, bears, spiders, wolves, sharks…all sorts of animals attack people. Not many people actually die from these attacks, but they happen, and there were some areas where the attacks happened more often than others.

I saw similar patterns with natural disasters, which makes sense, because earthquakes happen in some places and tornadoes happen in others. Same with hurricanes and flash floods and forest fires and blizzards.

As for crime, I stuck with any type of crime where a person got hurt.

It’s ironic that I now live in a city that has a fairly high crime rate (although, East St. Louis gives the city proper a bad name). At the same time, the risk of being attacked by snakes or killer bees here is next to nothing. And in all my 10 years here, I’ve never actually seen a tornado.

However, there was one city that rose above the rest. In 1995, the safest city in America was:

Fargo, North Dakota

Now hold on–before you quit your jobs and pack your bags for the upper Dakota, consider this: A few years after my research paper went to press (and by that I mean that I handed it in to my teacher), the Coen brothers made a movie about Fargo. Not just any movie about Fargo, but a movie about murder in Fargo.

So move to Fargo at your own risk. Sure, the chance that you’ll be attacked by vampire bats is really low, but there’s some dude up there that chops people up in a wood shredder. Stay clear of that dude.

If you’re interested in knowing more about how I thought about things as a kid, see my entry on what I thought sex was when I was little.

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