It has clearly influenced parenting. The people who grew up afraid to go in parks at night now supervise their own children with fanatical attention, even though crime rates have plummeted. It’s as if they’re responding to the sense of menace they felt while young, not the actual conditions of today.
The crime wave killed off the hippie movement. The hippies celebrated disorder, mayhem and the whole Dionysian personal agenda. By the 1970s, the menacing results of that agenda were all around. The crime wave made it hard to think that social problems would be solved strictly by changing the material circumstances. Shiny new public housing blocks replaced rancid old tenements, but in some cases the disorder actually got worse.
The crime wave made it hard to accept the story line that the poor were always spiritually pure, noble and oppressed. (…)
The children of the ’70s grew up with both unprecedented freedom and disorder, and have learned, in mostly good ways, from both.
Despite my mother’s assurances that we weren’t weathly enough for me to matter, I internalized the idea that being kidnapped was a probability. And the sinister mystery of something called “Watergate” loomed over everything.
The 1970s were an unbelievably awful time, but particularly if you were a kid and couldn’t understand what was going on.