What are my chances of being a victim of violent crime?

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Crime in America.Net

We have a reader’s question as to the probability of violent crime victimization (in this case, a female college student) . She asked if different groups of people are victimized more than others.  She wants to know the statistical chance of her being a victim of violent crime.

To answer, we will use studies of “all” crime through the National Crime Survey rather than “reported” crime through the FBI. See http://crimeinamerica.net/crime-rates-united-states/ for an explanation of the two sources.

The answer is statistically simple but it depends far more on the activities you choose to engage in than race, sex or income.

For example, those age 65 or older have, by far, the lowest rates of violent crime. However, if that 65 year old chooses to go into a high crime neighborhood and purchase drugs then his risk for violence dramatically increases.

If a 14 year old (those 12-15 have the highest rates for violent crime) chooses to spend her evenings studying and spending time with her family, her chances for violent crime drop dramatically.

Females knew their offenders in almost 70% of violent crimes committed against them (they are relatives, friends or acquaintances). If females make the best possible choices as to who they associate with (if they have a choice) their rates of violent crime drop considerably.

But this isn’t what our reader asked. So to comply with her request, the answers (based on ratios per 1,000 people) are:

Sex: Males are victimized more than females, but not by much (18.4 vs. 15.8) per thousand.  There are big differences per crime category; more men are victims of robbery and serious assault, the rates for simple assault are virtually identical, more women are raped.

Race: Blacks have much higher rates of violent crime (26.8) than whites (15.8) but the highest crime category in the survey is for people of mixed race (42.1 per thousand). Blacks were more likely than whites to be victims of overall violent crime, robbery, and aggravated assault, and somewhat more likely than whites to be victims of rape or sexual assault.

Hispanics: Hispanics (18.1) and non-Hispanics (17.0 per thousand) were equally likely to experience overall violent crime. Hispanics were victims of robbery at rates higher than those of non-Hispanics.

Income: While not a measure of violent crime, lower income households experienced property crime at higher rates than higher income households. In general, lower income households had higher rates of overall property crime and household burglary, compared to higher income households.

Although not covered by this document (source below) most research on violent crime also connects lower income individuals and households with higher rates of violent crime.

Households in the lowest income category—less than $7,500 per year—had the highest overall property crime rate, and were victims of property crime at a rate that was about 1.6 times higher than households earning $75,000 per year or more.

Size of Household: Larger households experienced property crime at much higher rates than smaller households.

Geography: People living in urban areas had much higher rates of violent and property crime than people living in suburbs and rural areas (from another part of the National Crime Survey).

Apartments: People living in single family homes have lower rates of crime than people living in apartments (from another part of the National Crime Survey).

Thus if you are 24 years of age and living in an apartment complex with three other people in an urban area and you are a person of modest income, your chances for crime and/or violent victimization are going to be much higher than a 50 year old living in a single family house with one additional person in a rural area.

But, if you are 24 years of age and living in an apartment complex in an urban area and you are a person of modest income who is going to college and only associates with trusted friends and works part-time and engages in limited socializing in high crime areas, your chance for violent victimization is going to be much lower than a 50 year old living in a single family house in a rural area who spends his life in a bar.

In the final analysis, our chances for violent victimization are more controlled by what we do than by who we are.

Source: http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/pub/pdf/cv09.pdf

For information on crime prevention, see http://crimeinamerica.net/crime-prevention-tips-that-work-3/


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    • Hi Dee: Great question.

      Non-violent and violent crimes follow the same trend lines. But it’s still dependant more on what you do than who you are.

      If you respond to Internet based inquiries for your credit card number or leave property in your car, demographics will take a back seat.

      But property crime “does” impact poor and minority communities to a greater degree than others.

      Best, Adam

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