by race, class, and gender. Such forces as escalating crime rates in the 1960s and 1970s, the women’s, civil rights, and children’s rights movements, and elevation of domestic and sexual violence, and subsequent policy at the federal and state levels have pushed the demand for more data and research on crime victims. Such crimes as hate crimes or stalking, which were not part of the criminological lexicon when the NCVS was developed, illustrate how the environment and conceptualization of victimization have changed.

Understanding the general victimization rate for purposes of correlation with police-reported crime rates is still important at the state and local levels, primarily for assessing crime trends and patterns. However, more detailed and segmented information about victimization patterns is often needed to craft policy, services, and resource allocation. Contemporary victimization issues include understanding victimization across different population segments, some of which are vulnerable and of significant public concern and have been addressed in the NCVS through topic supplement surveys, like the School Crime Supplement and the Police-Public Contact Survey supplement (see Demographic Surveys Division, U.S. Census Bureau, 2007a).

The NCVS topic supplements have provided significant new data and information and as such have been important innovations to the NCVS. However, they are also—as currently implemented—adjuncts or add-ons to the main NCVS and hence may not necessarily reflect the type of sample that would ideally be drawn to study the subject. The need for supplemental surveys reflects contemporary demand for enhanced victimization knowledge and should be reexamined relative to the continued role and form of the NCVS.

Significant state and federal resources have helped shaped the victims movement over the past three decades and consequently have indirectly fueled the need for more rich and geographically focused victimization data. Federal resources have been provided for states directly through landmark legislation such as the Victims of Crime Act of 1984 (VOCA; P.L. 98-473 §1401 et seq.) and the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 (VAWA, reauthorized in 2000; P.L. 103-322 and 106-386). The VOCA legislation created the Office for Victims of Crime in the Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice, and has assisted states in various ways to construct victim services and compensation fund infrastructures. The VAWA continued efforts in this area by providing resources to improve the investigation, prosecution, processing, and restitution enforcement for victims of crime. The National Center for Victims of Crime has also emerged as a central nongovernmental resource in this movement since 1985 (National Center for Victims of Crime, 2003).

The Office for Victims of Crime has grown into a significant resource and facilitated development of a victim services and enforcement infrastructure at the state level. The demand for victimization data, information, and

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement