Pete, despite the horrendous death toll there is no evidence the drug gangs have ever deliberately targeted tourists. In fact in places such as Cancun there is NO visible drug war. As an old news journalist, we'd characterise the Mexican situation (albeit on a massive scale) as scum v scum. over 90% of the victims are drug gang members and their "enemies". Sadly a large number of law enforcement officers and city officials have also been killed, fighting the drug gangs. But unless you and your family intends to buy, sell or ship narcotics, you'll be fine.
Seriously, there's something like 25 million foreign visitors to Mexico annually, and another 50 million day-trippers who cross the US/Mex border, and only a handful (at best) of innocent tourists have ever been killed. Sure you can be in the wrong place at the wrong time..... but the "wrong places" are widely known and easily identified (Ciudad Juarez for one - if you're crossing the border there.... keep going!)
The US State Department recently updated its travel warning for Mexico, and for the first time named specific hot spots and roads/highways where you might find trouble.
Have a read of our take on it here: http://journals.worldnomads.com/safetyhub/story/82854/Mexico/Mexico-Travel-Alert
There are certain roas and highways it would be prudent to avoid, especially at night. There's other specific advice such as; if you're going to Acapulco, stay within 2 blocks of the beach strip.
But the warning also clearly states that there's NO REASON to be afraid of the majority of the popular tourist spots.
It's wise to take precautions, and to make sure you don't inadvertently cross onto the "wrong side of the tracks", but Mexico, generally, gets bad press.
Enjoy. Relax. almost 8 years ago