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Measures of Crime - Statistical Overview of Sexual Assault (1995-2010)

Updated on May 14, 2013

Troubling Numbers in the Last Reporting Years

Tracking criminal justice statistics is a daunting, all-encompassing job that often falls victim to widespread scrutiny. Only the crimes that are reported can be measured, and this in itself is one of the most persistent issues with this study. There are many violent crimes, thefts, or sexual assaults that go unreported yearly, and this can be extraordinarily detrimental to the overall numbers. Despite this and other concerns, it is very important that crime patterns be monitored in order to understand societal causes. If retail theft has risen in a certain area, for example, finding the reasons behind the rise could help improve security and the circumstances as a whole. It is only one portion of working to comprehend crime causation.

From the years 1995 to 2010, the annual rate of female sexual assault or rape victimizations dropped a wide 58%. Rather than around 5 victims per every 1,000, it averaged to only about 2.1 per 1,000 individuals 12 or older. In 2005 to 2010, the female victims that seemed most at risk were age 34 or younger living in low income rural areas. In the same five years, 78% of sexual violence overall involved an offender that was a member of the family, acquaintance, intimate partner or friend. Also, 11% of rape or sexual offenders were armed with a knife, gun, or other weapon. In 2003, the rate of reported sexual offenses was at a high of 56%, but fell drastically to 35% in 2010. This low level of reporting had not been seen since 1995. The percentage of females injured during the attacks and subsequently received treatment for their injuries rose from 26% in 1994 to 1998, to 35% in 2005 to 2010. With that said, around 80% of victims received care in a hospital emergency room, doctor’s office, or other clinic, as opposed to 65% in 1994 to 1998. From 2005 to 2010, about 1 in 4 victims received assistance or advice from a victim services agency.

The question could easily be raised as to why the rate of sexual victimizations dropped while the rate of injuries rose. The percentage of reports also fell drastically around the same time injuries were on the rise. In 1994 to 1998, the most prevalent age group victimized was 12 to 17 at a rate of 11.3 individuals. This is consistent, and bodes true for 2005 to 2010 when the rate was still higher than the rest at 4.1. The juvenile sexualized image that seems to exist even today in society may contribute to this concerning trend. Recently, a woman known as The Human Barbie gave her seven year old daughter a voucher for breast augmentation surgery for her birthday. The girl was very delighted by the present. Every single day, young girls are bombarded by sexual overtones and the demand they look a certain way to garner love, attention, or even a career. With this being the central focus of society, it’s easy to see how teenagers or even younger may see fit that they become sexually active as soon as they are able. This also could give the wrong impression to young boys, who are taking their impressions of girls their age from the media storm. If they believe that sex is an acceptable behavior among the girls, they will feel they deserve it or have earned it simply by being male. Perception can drive an entire population.

Overall, between the years of 1994 and 2010 the races of victims seemed equally level with one another. The only category higher than the rest by a decent margin was two or more races, sitting at 6.6 between 1999 and 2004 and 5.1 between 2005 and 2010. In 1994 to 1998, the rate of victims who were divorced or separated was the highest, at 9.0. It fell to 6.3 and eventually to 4.4 in 2005 to 2010, but was still the highest number out of all marital statuses. Those who had never married was in second place, at 8.6 in 1994 to 1998. It dropped as well to 6.6 and to 4.1 in the last 5 reporting years. Those who were widowed was the lowest rate, at between 0.2 and 0.8. In regards to household income, according to the available statistics, those who made less than $25,000 annually living in an urban area were the most at risk between the years studied. As a side note, the rate of male victims between the years 1995 to 2010 was only 9%. In 2010, the rate of occurrences was 0.1 per 1,000 males compared to the 2.1 per 1,000 rate of females. Because of this low number of sample cases, the NCVS deemed male sexual violence unreliable for further disaggregation by incident and victim characteristics. The report focused only on females in regards to this finding.

While these statistics seem rather fluent and thorough, it is noted in the information on them that the race demographics were taken from far too small of a sample size, making them unreliable. It has widely been shown that the victimization of women seems to drop off as age increases, with youth being the most at risk. Again, this may have something to do with the over sexualized image young girls are given in this country. The openness to sexual behavior makes it seem simplistic and subtle, rather than the serious and possibly life changing experience that it is. Judging by the media, the idea of rape has become lighter as well. With even politicians pressing that it is not a serious matter but rather a right for the male community, it’s not difficult to ascertain where such a perception is originating. Perhaps this contributes to the rise in reported injuries, as previously mentioned. All in all, criminal report statistics are always difficult to find a solidified truth in. They rely so heavily on crime not being hidden or going unreported, that it is likely they may sometimes seem biased or even sit unbalanced more times than they are fair. However, it is absolutely imperative that these trends be measured to the study of crime prevention.

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