Safety >> Perceived Safety

Perceived Safety: Summary & Data Highlights

People of color, Hispanics, and adults born outside the U.S. were more likely to worry about safety than whites, non-Hispanics, and adults born in the U.S.

Feeling safe and secure at home, work, and play is basic to a sense of well-being and can influence healthy behaviors.  

In 2011, King County adults were asked how often in the preceding 12 months they worried about 6 specific threats to their safety, the safety of their children, and the safety of their home. The mean perceived safety score for King County adults was 24.3, with a possible range from 6 (low perceived safety) to 30 (high perceived safety). See Notes & Sources for more detail.

Race, ethnicity, country of birth, and first language mattered.

  • Whites worried about safety less than adults of other races.
  • Non-Hispanics worried about safety less than Hispanics. 
  • Adults born in the U.S. worried about safety less than those not born in the U.S.
  • Adults whose first language was English worried about safety less than those whose primary language was not English.

Place mattered.

  • South Region residents worried about safety more than residents of the other regions and King County as a whole. 
  • East Region respondents worried about safety less than those from other regions and King County overall.
  • Respondents in the East and North regions reported an increase in feelings of safety between the 2007 and 2011 surveys.

Income, education, employment, and health mattered.

  • Adults with household incomes at or above $65,000 worried about safety less than those with incomes below $20,000.
  • College graduates and those with some college worried about safety less than did high school graduates.
  • Adults who were employed or retired worried about safety less than those who were unable to work; and adults who were retired worried less than those who were unemployed.
  • Healthy adults worried about safety less than unhealthy adults.

Having children in the household mattered.

  • Adults in households with children worried about safety less than those in households with no children.

Age and gender did not matter.

Time mattered.

  • King County residents felt safer in 2011 than they had in 2004.  This was true in all regions of the county.
  • In 2011, King County residents worried about safety less than they had in 2007.  This was also true for respondents from East and North Regions, but not for residents of Seattle or South Region.

"I feel relatively safe here, and yet you hear about- we just had a shooting um, in front of my neighbor’s house, yesterday unfortunately, I’m not sure what happened.… I have to take the bus, you know, to my classes. You know we only have one car. It only comes up until 10:30 at night, it doesn’t feel very comfortable.  I’ve been more uncomfortable in other places, but it doesn’t feel safe for me as a woman."
Mother of toddler in 2-parent family living in South Seattle.