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

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Crime in America.Net. Updated in 2016.

Please see a comprehensive article on preventing you from becoming a victim of crime at https://www.crimeinamerica.net/crime-prevention-tips-that-work-3/.


Leonard A. Sipes, Jr.

Thirty-five years of speaking for national and state criminal justice agencies. Former Senior Specialist for Crime Prevention for the Department of Justice’s clearinghouse. Graduate-Johns Hopkins University.


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.

Note that this article is a mix of data per the two sources below and our historic knowledge of crime statistics.

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. Most crime is not reported to law enforcement; approximately 50 percent of violent crime is reported. Thus National Crime Survey data will give us a much more accurate analysis.

The answer the reader’s question 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 12-17 have the highest rates for violent crime) chooses to spend her evenings studying and spending time with her family, her chances for violent crime victimization 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 for violent crime drop considerably.

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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 (21.1 vs. 19.1) 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 higher rates of violent crime (22.5) than whites (20.3) but the highest crime category in the survey is for people of mixed race (42.1 per thousand-original article). 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 (16.2) had lower rates than”others” (23.0 per thousand).

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.

Age: Generally speaking, the older you are, the less your chance for violent victimization. It goes from 30.1 for those 12-17 to 3.1 for those 65 and older.

Marriage: Those never married have higher rates of violent crime (27.9) versus those married (12.4). However, those separated (52.8) and those divorced (30.3) have the highest rates.

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).

Other Factors: The National Crime Survey doesn’t cover a wide array of life circumstances, but some groups have higher rates of crime. Members of the LGBT community, for example, seem to have higher rates of violent crime (beyond hate crimes). Additional groups that are marginalized by society (i.e., nerds bullied by peers, immigrants, members of non-mainstream religions) are probably at a higher risk for threats and the psychological implications that come with it.

Summary: 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 after a separation.

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 (original article).

Source: Updated article, http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/cv14.pdf.

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

Contact us at crimeinamerica@gmail.com. Media on deadline, useleonardsipes@gmail.com.



  1. FrankiLu says:

    Can you please elaborate on your findings on mixed race people?

    • Hi. The mixed race designation is a definition from the Bureau of Justice Statistics of the US Department of Justice.

  2. FrankiLu says:

    I’m mixed race. I’m curious to know more about your findings that mixed race people are more often victims of crimes. Can you please elaborate?

    • Hi Sorry for taking so long to respond.Go to the website for the US Bureau of Justice Statistics and see their definition of mixed race.

  3. Dee Coller says:

    What about that of Non Violent crimes? Would the statistics be about the same or less?

    • 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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