Published on January 17th, 2012 | by James Johnson0
Bird Song May Help Prevent Crime [You Be The Judge]
If you travel along the desert fringe of Los Angeles County and you listen closely to the sounds of the road you might notice the songs of various birds, yet not a single swallow, dove or other creature will be seen. That’s because Mayor R. Rex Parris installed bird records from England in the hopes of curbing crime throughout the area.
According to the mayor in an interview with the Wall Street Journal:
The chirps subconsciously discourage criminality, Mr. Parris says: “Everybody is now in a better mood, a better place.”
For the past 10 months 70 speakers along a half mile stretch of the highway blended with synthesizer tones for five hours a day. According to the mayor the mixture of music and bird song fine-tunes brain chemicals, leading to a 15% decline in minor crimes in Lancaster over the last 10 months when compared to the same period in 2010. Serious crimes also fell by 6%.
While Mayor Parris believes the Bird Songs are helping Laura Dugan, an associate professor of criminology and criminal justice at the University of Maryland says initiatives such as this typically yield results because public officials look for results that match their efforts. She tells the WSJ:
“There’s also a drop in crime in every other major and minor city, so just because somebody tries something and you see a drop in crime, it doesn’t mean it necessarily caused it.”
If nothing else the psychology behind the birds use may be lending itself to the happiness witnessed in residents as they claim the birds make the town a more enjoyable place to live.
Not everyone thinks his initiative is all talk, Daniel Levitin, a neuroscientist at McGill University, says that when people perceive a positive environment they tend to be genuinely effected. He notes that if the sound of vultures and other threatening birds were used the opposite effect could also occur.
While birds song records may be a newer approach to offer a calming effect it’s not the first time subliminal type messages have been used for crowd control, the London Underground uses classical music in some stations to create less crime.
A scientific study needs to be completed to determine the efficacy of the program but as it stands for now at least a small stretch of highway offers the soothing sounds of birds and music.