I want to try and answer this one as it seems to be a genuine question from someone in need of reassurance. I must admit that I’m struggling to empathise with your situation and fears, Hope, as my upbringing, indeed my life, has been far from sheltered. I believe fear of the unknown and an overprotective mentality can become endemic amongst any group of people that live in a closed society or environment. You did not say where you are from but I would guess that you are not from a large US city? It sounds to me that you are not seeking confirmation of suspected truths in your post, but rather desperate for someone to dispel your mothers, and consequently it seems, your own, ingrained suspicions about that which exists beyond your well controlled borders.
Foreign travel is, by its definition, a new experience but one that, embraced with passion, planning and most importantly a freedom of spirit can only enrich ones understanding of the world and, by extrapolation, oneself. You say you have a passion for foreign cultures? This is indeed a good thing and a great place to start, but now you need to couple that bookish enthusiasm with some real world action. Take the plunge, skip across the pond and throw yourself into a world that, although similar to your own, will seem magical and unreal, colourful, vibrant, strange, enticing and odd to a first time traveller such as yourself.
If, like so many before you, this addictive first hit of the new changes your perspective and skews your previously held convictions about the world then good, this is a healthy addiction, and one that seems to keep giving more, no matter how many more hits you take. If you truly desire to be a travel writer then, as you say, you need to broaden your horizons and cut the ties that bind. From what you say your mothers protective stance is holding you back but, reading between the lines, it seems to me that you’re perhaps using her maternal instincts as an excuse. If you really want this, if travel and a career in the travel industry is really your dream, then book the ticket, pack your bags, reassure your mum and leave.
As regards your mothers (and more, I believe, your) need for reassurance, I would say only this: foreign countries and cities look so much worse viewed through the distorted lens of the media. Positive news is rarely reported in the media about one’s own country in one’s own country, even at the provincial level, so to expect anything but the worst news from England filtering back across the pond is just ridiculous! If I were to make my judgements of America and Americans based purely on what I see on telly then I’d never consider visiting that country in a million years. Likewise, if all users of Travelblog were to always follow their government’s advice on countries to avoid when travelling then the blogs would come from but a handful of countries.
What I’m trying to say is that if you really want to travel, if writing about new countries, cultures and places is truly your life’s ambition then you have to turn a deaf ear to all the doubters, a blind eye to all those waving their arms in admonition of your desires and simply get out there and do it. Crime figures be damned, overbearing mothers placated and your own fears doused; pull on your pack, step off the plane and I guarantee you you’ll never look back.