Females Have Higher Rates of Violent Crime Than Males



FBI (in 2014) and National Crime Survey (in 2015) reports more female than male victims.

Traditionally, males have higher rates of violent crime victimization than females.

Why is this happening?


By 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.



The rate of violent and serious violent victimization (per 1,000 people) committed against males decreased from 2014 to 2015.

Among males, the rate of violent victimization decreased from 21.1 victimizations per 1,000 males in 2014 to 15.9 per 1,000 in 2015.

With this decline, the violent victimization rate for males dropped below that for females (21.1 per 1,000) in 2015.

The rate of serious violent victimization for males decreased from 8.3 per 1,000 in 2014 to 5.4 per 1,000 in 2015.

No statistically significant difference was detected in the rate of violent or serious violent victimizations committed against females from 2014 to 2015, but their rate did increase from 7.0 to 8.1

Source: http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/cv15.pdf

Males Have Always Had Higher Rates of Violence

Historically, there has always been a stark difference in the rates of violent victimization between males and females.

According to the National Crime Survey, in 2003, males had a rate of violent victimization of 34.6 versus females at 29.7.

In 2011, males had a violent victimization rate of 25.5 versus 19.8 for females.

In 2012, males had a violent victimization rate of 29.4 versus 23.3 for females.

As to serious violent victimization, the rates are much closer for the same years mentioned except for 2012 where males were seriously victimized at a higher rate (9.4 versus 6.6).

Prevalence Rates

In recent years not mentioned, the National Crime Survey used prevalence rates (instead of rates per 1,000 people) based on the number of persons or households in the population who experienced at least one victimization during a specified time.

For example, in 2014, 1.2 percent of males and 1.1 percent of females (1.5 million for both) experienced one or more violent victimizations.

For 2013, the prevalence rate for males was 1.2 versus females, 1.1.

For a fuller explanation, contact the Bureau of Justice Statistics of the US Department of Justice at http://www.bjs.gov/

FBI Data

The FBI also states that there are more female victims of violent crime than males. In 2014, there were 735,043 female victims of violent crime versus 518, 170 for males. Women were the primary victims of assaults, kidnappings, and sex offenses. Males were the primary victims of homicide. Historical data was not offered on the FBI website. See https://ucr.fbi.gov/nibrs/2014/tables/victims/victims_sex_by_offense_category_2014_final.pdf

Two National Measures of Crime

We are using National Crime Survey data for most of the observations presented. There are major differences between the National Crime Survey (via the Bureau of Justice Statistics) and crimes reported to the police through the FBI. See https://www.crimeinamerica.net/crime-rates-united-states/ for a brief explanation.

Historically, fewer than half of violent crimes are reported to law enforcement, thus the need for a survey to get a complete picture of crime. Generally speaking, what’s reported are serious crimes (as defined by the victim).

Some Background

First, we have to understand that there are violent crimes (i.e., homicides) where males have always outnumbered female victims and crimes (i.e., domestic violence and sexual assault) where females are principally victimized (most by people victims know).

As a husband and father of two daughters, the overall rates of violence of females versus males in 2015 (National Crime Survey) is disturbing. The FBI data was unexpected.

As someone who has observed rates of violent crime for decades, 2015 is the first year I am aware of where violent crime rates via the National Crime Survey were higher for women than men.

Note that I am using relatively recent yearly data from the National Crime Survey, and I am unaware of a historical report tracking women as victims over decades, thus my observation  is speculation, but I believe I’m correct.

Note that violent crime has decreased over the course of decades while rising in 2015 per crimes reported to police, see https://www.crimeinamerica.net/crime-rates-united-states/

I am not making a claim that women are experiencing more violent crime, but that they are experiencing violent victimization at higher rates than males.

Why Are Rates of Violent Victimization Higher for Women Than Men?

No one knows why women are victimized more than men. What follows is theory based on data and direct conversations with women in the criminal justice system.

Women constitute the fastest growing correctional population, see https://www.crimeinamerica.net/2016/10/12/national-statistics-on-women-offenders/. For example, the female local jail population increased 48% between 1999 and 2013

Generally speaking, crime is mostly “in-group” where people victimize others similar to themselves.

In interviewing women offenders about their violent crimes, they often told me that their victims were other women from the immediate area.

For those caught up in the criminal justice system, females have higher rates of drug use and mental health issues, primarily based on sexual violence and parental abuse and neglect when they were children.

Steps to Take

What we know is that the justice system needs gender specific programming for women at all stages of the system. Sensitivity towards women’s issues is not an option, but the criminal justice system is overwhelmed by cases, and is notoriously slow to add new services.

Women as victims were an often-discussed topic in past years, but the emphasis has waned. With the news that females have higher rates of violent victimization than men, we need to return to the topic.

Is something happening that we are uncomfortable discussing or unwilling to acknowledge? It’s time to return to the topic.

Crime in America at http://crimeinamerica.net

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

My book: “Amazon Hot New Release”- “A Must Have Book,” Success With The Media: Everything You Need To Survive Reporters and Your Organization available at Amazon





  1. Heber E Watts, Jr says:

    This article looks interesting and I look forward to reading it fully!!

    Heber E Watts, Jr
    Retired Maryland State Police Captain
    Commander of Planning and Research
    Former Chair of Maryland’s Juvenile Justice
    Graduate of Johns Hopkins University.

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