Scarborough: what the media doesn’t tell you

It’s no secret that Scarborough doesn’t have the greatest reputation. The word itself brings on negative associations of drugs, crime and violence, and it’s been like this for quite some time. How much of that, though, is based on actual fact?

It’s easy to dive into the stats – and once you do, it becomes apparent that crime rates are dropping – but no matter how positive the fight on crime is going, the negative stigma still seems to stick with the Toronto suburb.

Having lived in this part of the city my entire life, not once have I ever felt in danger, anxious or scared to walk the streets by myself.

Even Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair, a graduate of the same Scarborough high school I attended, has said on multiple occasions that he prides himself on 42 division being the safest in the city.

If the declining crime rates are not fixing Scarborough’s “dangerous” image, then what is causing it to begin with?

I believe a lot of it has to do with media perception. It seems to happen that every time a crime takes place in Scarborough, the media file it under “Yet another Scarborough (insert crime here) story”, taking the dangerous, crime-ridden neighbourhood angle. It makes for great, enticing news – I can completely understand why they take that route. Ratings are the life-blood of any media outlet.

With national television news broadcasts, major newspapers and radio stations feeding the rest of the city, province and country with the “dangers of Scarborough,” it becomes much easier to see why those not living in the suburb are definite in their (mis)judgements.

This is not to say there aren’t pockets of the Toronto suburb that can’t use some work, but it’s unfair to judge a positively changed area based on its regrettable past.

Unfortunately, this is the how the people get their news – it’s been like this for as long as I can remember, and will stay like this for as long as I can imagine.

What is it we can do as a community to ward off this negative perception? Well, it’s not something that can be fixed overnight, but there are things we Scarborough residents can do to reinforce our neighbourhood’s new, positive image.

We need to ignore the negative media. It’s not worth getting frustrated over false perceptions of our end in the city. Continually hearing bad things on the news will make us believe it is true – we can’t let that affect us.

We also need to continue the way we were going. Scarborough has taken a turn for the better, and we want to continue along that path. Participating in community fundraisers, outdoor barbeques, artistic performances – the list goes on. We need the pros to outweigh the cons. The media can’t say anything negative if we don’t give them the chance to.

What it all comes down to is respecting our community. Taking pride in where we live, who we are and what we do is not something that will go unnoticed. We, as a community, need to unmask Scarborough, and show the rest of the city, the province and the country exactly why I’m proud to call Scarborough home.