for contextualizing shorter term spikes and drops in crime rates. Understanding crime trends in the United States would therefore seem to require consideration of female as well as male experiences with crime over a substantial period of time.
In addition, a full understanding of crime trends necessitates attention to victimization as well as offending. Focusing on female and male experiences with violence highlights this point. Women consistently are less likely than men to be both violent offenders and victims. Yet the gender difference in rates of victimization is smaller than in rates of offending, for the most part. For example, women are much less likely than men to kill or rob. They are also less likely than men to be killed or robbed, but the difference between female and male rates is smaller in the case of victimization.
This emphasizes the need for research addressing female as well as male trends and offending as well as victimization. Shifts in female victimization and offending may be of little unique significance if they simply mirror male shifts. Thus, a National Academies report on violence against women concluded that careful research comparing long-term trends in female and male violence is a priority (National Research Council, 2004).
This chapter seeks to broaden knowledge of offending and victimization trends in the United States by reporting and examining changes in (1) female and male violent offending, (2) female and male violent victimization, and (3) gendered patterns of victim-offender relationships in violent incidents. We produce estimates of annual rates of female and male violent offending and victimization for 1980 through 2004 by pooling the National Crime Survey (NCS) and NCVS data. We also examine gendered patterns of violence across victim-offender relationships.
There is no published study to date that examines all three of these aspects of gendered crime trends because research has relied heavily on arrest data from the UCR, which do not include information on victims. Using the pooled NCS-NCVS data, we estimate and report trends that have not been published previously and are free from potential criminal justice system bias. In addition, the NCS-NCVS data allow for important disaggregations that are not possible with UCR arrest data on nonlethal violence, such as by victim-offender relationships, and thus can be used to reveal factors that may be associated with crime trends. Our assessment of the data uncovers similarities and differences between gendered trends in victimization and offending. The detailed examination of these trends is a necessary first step toward better understanding violence in the United States.