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2
Patterns of Violence in American Society

The mass media daily trumpet the most recent violent events in the world, and violence is an essential ingredient for many viewers of video screen drama. News of a relatively few violent crimes attracts a disproportionate amount of media attention compared with the more numerous violent events that are known only to the families, friends, and acquaintances of particular victims and perpetrators. Accounts of the more dramatic episodes of actual homicides, rapes, and robberies command special attention, as do the shootings of well-known people, gangsters, and police officers. To what extent do the violent criminal events reported in the media represent national patterns of violence in everyday life? How do patterns of violence in the nation today compare with patterns in other countries and at other times?

This chapter describes patterns discernible in violent behavior and trends in its occurrence or reporting, focusing on comparative levels of violence, the risks of becoming a victim of violence, the characteristics of violent offenders, and the circumstances surrounding violence.

Difficulties of Measurement

There is no single way to define, classify, and measure the domain of violent events, because each counting system involves some evaluation of people's observations and reports of what they



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Page 42 2 Patterns of Violence in American Society The mass media daily trumpet the most recent violent events in the world, and violence is an essential ingredient for many viewers of video screen drama. News of a relatively few violent crimes attracts a disproportionate amount of media attention compared with the more numerous violent events that are known only to the families, friends, and acquaintances of particular victims and perpetrators. Accounts of the more dramatic episodes of actual homicides, rapes, and robberies command special attention, as do the shootings of well-known people, gangsters, and police officers. To what extent do the violent criminal events reported in the media represent national patterns of violence in everyday life? How do patterns of violence in the nation today compare with patterns in other countries and at other times? This chapter describes patterns discernible in violent behavior and trends in its occurrence or reporting, focusing on comparative levels of violence, the risks of becoming a victim of violence, the characteristics of violent offenders, and the circumstances surrounding violence. Difficulties of Measurement There is no single way to define, classify, and measure the domain of violent events, because each counting system involves some evaluation of people's observations and reports of what they

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Page 43 perceive as violent events. Any set of crime statistics, therefore, is based on events that are defined, captured, and processed by some institutional means of collecting and counting. Violent events that are socially constructed as crimes consequently are counted more accurately and completely than those that are not. In addition, society's interpretation of violent events as crimes changes over time and differs across segments of the population. There is no national profile of all the violent events with which this panel was concerned. Rather, three nationwide measurement systems count and classify various components. We describe the strengths and limitations of these national systems here, and then indicate the variety of subnational data bases that are used in violence research. First, for events that police classify as crimes, the Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) system collects basic information about the most serious crime committed. The UCR also records supplementary information about the circumstances of homicides and basic descriptions of arrestees. Second, for homicides, data are also tabulated annually from death certificates by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). Third, for nonfatal violent victimizations, the National Crime Survey (NCS, later, the National Crime Victimization Survey) is a primary data source. The survey periodically asks national samples of all persons in households who are age 12 and older to recall and describe their recent victimizations. Survey questions are worded so as to direct respondents' attention to events that they personally regard as crimes. The task of describing the national pattern of violence from these three systems is complicated by the fact that they differ in terms of (1) the domain of events that they attempt to capture, (2) the unit of count on which their statistics are based, (3) the timing of the counting and tabulation, and (4) the sources of discretion and error in recording and counting events. Table 2-1 provides a summary comparison of these characteristics of the three systems. To help readers interpret national data with the appropriate caution, we summarize these differences and their implications before reporting what is known about national patterns and trends. The difficulties of measuring violence are explained more fully in Appendix B. Differences In Domain Both NCS and UCR data produce national counts of three types of nonfatal violent crimes: forcible rape,1 robbery, and aggravated

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Page 44 TABLE 2-1    Comparison of Violence Measurement Systems System Characteristic National Crime Survey Uniform Crime Reports National Mortality Statistics Source • Sample of U.S.   households • Incident reports of participating police agencies • Death certificates Domain • Nonfatal violent victimizations of persons aged 12+ • Violent crimes known to police including homicides and violence during crimes against organizations • Homicides Unit of Count • Most serious victimization during event • Most serious crime during event • Deaths Timing • Events occurring in 6-month reference period • Collected contemporaneously • Collected contemporaneously   • Published annually with 10- to 12-month lag • Published annually • Published annually, with 2-year time lag Sources of Discretion/Error • Respondent recall, construction as victimization, and choice to recount • Victim/witness decision to report to police and discretionary police detection • Medical examiner judgment   • Interviewer judgment • Police determination that crime occurred       • Agency rules for counting • Counting rules    

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Page 45 assault. Both count attempted as well as completed crimes. However, within each type, the two sets of statistics are not strictly comparable because they capture different categories of event. The NCS is designed to record nonfatal victimizations of persons age 12 and over. Of these events, the UCR records only those incidents that become known to police as crimes—some 40 to 50 percent, according to NCS estimates. However, as shown in the figure, UCR counts include police-recorded incidents of two categories of events that fall outside the NCS domain: crimes against children younger than 12 and robberies of organizations. Simple assaults, the largest and least serious category of violent victimizations in NCS data, are not counted as index crimes by UCR. Homicides are counted in both UCR and NCHS national mortality statistics. Usually, UCR homicide counts are slightly smaller than NCHS counts; homicides that occur outside police jurisdictions (e.g., in prisons) account for some of the discrepancy. No national system reports threats to commit violent acts. Differences in Unit of Count Our concern is with violent events, but a single violent event may include both a number of violent crimes and a number of offenders and their victims. Differences between the NCS and UCR units of count in these events must be considered in interpreting the two sets of statistics. The event described in Chapter 1 involving Mr. Waldermarian, for example, in which an attempted robbery ended in a shooting death, is counted only as a homicide by UCR (because UCR counts only the most serious crime in the event) and is uncounted by NCS because the victim's death eliminates him from the sample frame. Thus, the attempted robbery is also omitted from both systems. However, if the event involved multiple offenders, both of whom were later arrested, the event would be represented twice in arrest statistics. A related discrepancy occurs, for example, in a robbery of multiple victims simultaneously. The UCR counts such a robbery as a single crime, as does NCS in its estimated count of incidents.2 NCS victimization counts are weighted, however, to reflect multiple victimizations. Differences in Timing The systems that measure violence also differ in terms of their timing relative to the events they measure. Crimes are recorded

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Page 46 in UCR more or less as they occur. Statistics are published annually with a lag of about six months. In contrast, NCS interviews take place throughout the year, with the respondents asked to recall all victimizations they experienced during the preceding six months, and data preparation and publication require about a year. Therefore, at times some events represented in the most recent NCS report have occurred at least a year before some events counted in the most recent UCR report. Not only does this discrepancy complicate comparisons of trends in the two series, but the comparative recency of UCR data tends to give them more visibility in the eyes of the public and policy makers. National mortality statistics are published with a lag of approximately two years. Sources of Discretion and Error The statistics produced by all three systems reflect not only actual events but also the discretion of the authorities that collect and publish the data. With homicide, for example, the systemic differences noted above probably account for some of the discrepancy between UCR and NCHS homicide counts. But even the NCHS counts are influenced by medical examiners' complex and subtle judgments, which are themselves subject to error. Counts of nonfatal violent events are affected by the interactions of errors and discretion by both the statistical agencies and the victims of violence. Reporting a victimization to an NCS interviewer requires the respondent to accomplish a series of tasks: recall the event, recognize it as a victimization, decide whether it occurred during the six-month reference period, and decide whether it is worth mentioning, given the effort and possible embarrassment or fear that describing it to the interviewer may entail. In turn, the interviewer makes judgments about how to record the responses, and the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Justice Statistics set rules for interpreting, coding, and tabulating the recorded information. Before a violent event is counted in UCR statistics, it must have been reported to or discovered by a police agency, where someone is responsible for following a fairly detailed set of instructions for counting the crimes that occurred during the event. Thus, in both sets of data, complex activities are translated into statistics of violent events. One clear example of how judgments affect national profiles involves what NCS classifies as ''series victimizations." Whenever a respondent recalls more than three fairly similar victimizations and is unclear about the precise number or details of each

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Page 47 one, the policy is to publish series victimization statistics separately from the annual statistics, ascribing the characteristics of the most recent victimization to all events in the series. Each event in the NCS series would be counted in UCR statistics provided that the police had knowledge of the incident. This NCS policy for reporting of series victimizations is probably the most appropriate, given existing knowledge about recall of series victimizations. While the count of single victimizations underestimates total victimizations by at least 9 percent, any arbitrary rule for combining series and single victimizations would significantly raise the count. Counting each series victimization as three incidents (the minimum threshold for designating a series victimization) would increase the total by 28 percent, and weighting each reported series by the respondent's estimate of the count in the series would increase it by a factor of 10. Moreover, assuming that all victimizations in a series are identical to the last one introduces anomalies, especially when very small numbers of respondents report series victimizations of a given type. The social construction of crime—the informal rules of society and the official policies of organizations that designate some acts but not others as crimes—no doubt affects national statistics on violent crime, but these effects have not been measured. As explained further in Appendix B, one effect of recent changes in the position of women in society has been to criminalize sexual and physical assaults against women in the eyes of many. Therefore, more NCS female respondents than in the past can be expected to construe assaults by their husbands and "date rapes" by acquaintances and intimates as victimizations that should be mentioned to an NCS interviewer. There has also been considerable moral and legal pressure for police agencies to treat more acts of domestic violence as criminal assaults, which would be counted in UCR statistics. Without knowing how widely these attitudes have spread, how significantly embarrassment and fear of retribution still inhibit women from reporting such incidents to NCS interviewers and to police, and how responsive police agencies are to such reports, we cannot know how much of the recent rise in overall assault rates is due to these changes in social construction. Two comparisons explained more fully in Appendix B indicate that even after reporting a forcible rape, robbery, or assault to the police, some respondents fail to recount them to NCS interviewers. First, the UCR forcible rape count substantially exceeds the number that "should" have been reported, according to NCS data on the number of forcible rapes and the fraction of these reported

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Page 48 to police. Second, while intensive "reverse-record comparisons" between NCS and UCR records in two jurisdictions found, as expected, that many violent victimizations reported to NCS interviewers had not been reported to police, they found, for example, that nearly half the aggravated assaults reported to San Jose, California, police were not reported to NCS interviewers. Reiss (1985:166-167) computed a crude estimate that the true San Jose aggravated assault rate was approximately double the NCS rate and triple the rate estimated from police reports. One type of violence that is especially poorly counted is assaults of children by their parents. Some of these go unrecognized because they are socially construed as discipline rather than violence. The NCS counts such incidents only if the victim is aged 12 or older and overcomes the fear and embarrassment associated with recounting the event to an interviewer. A UCR record would require either a self-incriminating parental report to police or a report by a courageous victim, other family member, or an institutional official. The current institutional system for reporting and counting such incidents relies largely on reporting by school, social service, or medical professionals, who may miss physical evidence on many parts of the child's body, who often have no basis for judging whether an assaultive injury was inflicted by a parent or by another family member, and who may justifiably anticipate a confrontation and potential legal action if they report their suspicion. In recent years, the NCS has begun publishing special tabulations of intrafamily violent victimizations. However, the counts are lower than counts based on several special-purpose surveys conducted since 1975. National estimates based on these surveys are discussed in Chapter 5. Secondary Information The primary violence measurement systems also differ in terms of the secondary information they record and report beyond occurrence of a violent event. The NCS reports information on characteristics of the victim, preexisting relationships between the victim and offender, the victim's perceptions of offender characteristics, and the aftermath of the victimization (e.g., extent of injury and financial loss, reporting of the victimization to the police). The NCS data on victim ethnic status are limited, however, and are collected according to current Census Bureau definitions. The program has only recently begun calculating separate

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Page 49 victimization rates for Hispanics, and the national sample is too small to compute stable estimates for Native Americans or Asians. Because the NCS sample is designed to produce statistically efficient national estimates, it cannot produce reliable estimates for states or local jurisdictions. For nonfatal violent crimes, the UCR program currently reports no information beyond occurrence of the event and place of occurrence in the years for which national data are available.3 The Supplementary Homicide Reports tabulate limited additional information on victims' and offenders' demographic characteristics (if the offender is known), on victim-offender relationships, on circumstances of the event (e.g., committed in the course of a crime), and on the type of weapon. Because this information is tabulated before extensive police investigation in a coding scheme that does not accommodate multiple circumstances or relationships, its validity has been questioned. For city and suburban arrestees, UCR arrest reports tabulate gender and ethnic status (using the categories whites, blacks, Native Americans, and Asians/Pacific Islanders, with no separate category for Hispanics). As a census of all crimes and arrests, the UCR program publishes crime and arrest statistics for states and localities with their own police agencies. Subnational Data Bases Quantitative research on the causes of violence uses not only these national data bases, but also other data that describe subnational areas or selected samples of individuals. Examples of subnational data bases in government agencies include: individual arrest records maintained by police departments and reports of child abuse maintained by local authorities. Individual investigators also assemble research data bases in a variety of ways—by collecting new data (e.g., surveys of violence in the home, longitudinal data on individuals' violent crimes and related life events), by coding data from agency record systems (e.g., hospital emergency department injury admissions, police incident reports), or by linking aggregate-level data (e.g., merging murder statistics and socioeconomic statstics at the census tract level). These kinds of data, and their strengths and limitations for research purposes, are discussed throughout the rest of this book, in conjunction with the findings from research in which they are used. Recognizing the limitations of existing national measurement systems, this chapter describes patterns and trends in violence.

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Page 50 Although our national systems of measuring and counting violent crimes are imperfect and not entirely comparable, they can answer a number of basic questions. Comparative Levels of Violence Common perceptions are that American society is more violent than most societies, that it is more violent today than ever before, and that violence is ever increasing. The facts are, unfortunately, more complex and simple generalizations are quite misleading. Historical Trends in Homicide Violent crime rates have fluctuated considerably throughout this century. The homicide rate has peaked twice; each peak was followed by a decline. From 1900 to the early 1930s, there was a substantial increase in homicide. The rate then fell for the next 30 years, to reach a low in the early 1960s. A rise in the 1960s and 1970s peaked in 1980 and was followed by a decline in the early 1980s and higher rates since 1985. The 1990 homicide rate reported by UCR (9.4 per 100,000 population) is somewhat below that of the two previous peaks in the twentieth century (a mean of 9.5 in 1931-1934 and 10.4 in 1979-1981) (Holinger, 1987). Substantial differences in gender and ethnic homicide victimization rates have persisted since the late nineteenth century. Fragmentary evidence for the nineteenth century and more substantial time series for the twentieth show that nonwhite men and women have always been more likely to be murdered than white men and women (see Figure 2-1; Holinger, 1987). Although the ratio of black to white homicide rates varies from 1910 onward, in any year the ratio has never been lower than 5 to 1, and in the 1950s and 1960s the ratio was as great as 11 to 1 (calculated by Gurr, 1989, from Holinger, 1987); in 1989 the ratio was roughly 7 to 1. The homicide pattern for blacks has diverged historically from that for other immigrants to the United States. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, first-generation European immigrants to U.S. cities had generally higher homicide rates than those of the native-born white population (Lane, 1979; Monkkonen, 1989). Although it is difficult to trace the ethnic status of their descendants in contemporary America, the available evidence points to few, if any, differences in homicide rates of later generations of these European immigrant populations (Gurr, 1989).

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Page 51 Figure 2-1 Age-adjusted homicide rates, by sex and race, United States, 1929-1989. SOURCE: Adapted from Holinger (1987) The historical evidence for blacks suggests that their homicide victimization rates in the twentieth century are generally above those in the nineteenth century. Fragmentary data for some eastern U.S. cities suggest that, from 1860 to 1910, the ratio of black to white homicides varied between 2 and 3 to 1. After 1910, when more complete data are available, the ratio is greater. The 1931-1934 overall peak coincided with peaks for both white and black males. However, the 1979-1981 peak followed a tripling of the white male rate over the preceding three decades; the rate for black males had peaked about a decade earlier and, except for occasional year-to-year deviations, continued to fall until the mid-1980s. The explanation for this historical divergence for blacks may involve the residential segregation and the structure of opportunities for occupational and social mobility that blacks have experienced. According to a recent review (Jencks and Mayer, 1990), however, available evidence does not permit us to separate the effects of family, school, and neighborhood. Trends since 1979-1981 in homicide and nonfatal violent crime rates are examined in more detail later in this chapter.

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Page 52 International Comparisons Despite national differences in counting systems, it is clear that the developed nations of the world vary substantially in their rates of violent crime. The United States has significantly higher rates for most violent crimes than almost all other developed nations. The more serious the crime, the greater the difference between the U.S. rate and those of other developed nations. Comparisons among countries are most valid for the crime of homicide (Figure 2-2). Based on reporting to the World Health Figure 2-2 Crude homicide rates for selected countries, most recent year for which data are available. Data from the World Health Organization, 1987.

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Page 88 Variation Within Cities Violent crime rates vary, not only according to community size and over time, but also from neighborhood to neighborhood within cities. This spatial distribution of violent crime within cities can be dramatic, equaling and sometimes far exceeding the variation across city-size groups. Where one lives within even the highest crime rate cities affects one's risk of violent victimization more than the size of the city. Figure 2-9 is a map of census tracts in the city of San Diego, indicating the rate of violent crime in each tract during the second quarter of 1991. While 7 census tracts recorded less than 1 violent crime per 1,000 population, 1 reported 300. Several clusters of adjacent San Diego tracts have roughly the same crime rates. Not surprisingly, higher rates generally occur in the central business district; however, these rates are difficult to interpret because the population of residents is smaller than the population of people at risk, who include many who commute there from outside the city or from other areas of the city. Rates are also high in low-income residential communities compared with those in above-average income communities. There is considerable evidence that residents perceive crime in terms of its spatial distribution and community organization (Warr, Volume 4). People's perceptions of the relative safety of different neighborhoods largely match the reality, leading them to prefer some neighborhoods to others and to avoid stopping or staying in areas they perceive as violent. They are also aware that in daily living the risks of victimization change as they move from one area to another—from home to work, from home to play, or obtaining business or professional services (see Figure 2-10). Data Needs Examination of the systems for counting and classifying violent behavior leads to the inescapable conclusion that our present official and unofficial systems of counting and classifying violent criminal behavior result in a substantial underestimation of both the kind and the amount of violent behavior. Our official systems for collecting information on crimes largely fail to collect information on intrafamily violence. The systems also undercount most nonfamily crimes in which the victim survives. There appears to be less underestimation for armed robbery than for assaults. Both sexual assaults and interpersonal assaults are substantially underreported in our official systems as evidence from

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Page 89 Figure 2-9 San Diego violent crime rate by census tract, 1991. Source: San Diego Police Department Crime Analysis Unit.

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Page 90 Figure 2-10 Contour map of perceptions in Summit County, Ohio. Source: Pyle (1980). emergency treatment, other institutional records, and small sample surveys of selected populations (e.g., surveys of men and women for a city or college) make apparent. As reflected in this chapter, there is a paucity of information about victimization risks for ethnic categories other than whites and blacks. The panel recommends that UCR, NCS, and NCHs explore and, to the extent possible, expand their capacities for collecting and reporting data for Hispanics, Asians, Native Americans, and other ethnic categories. There is also a paucity of information on the consequences of victimization by violent crime. The NCS collects information on injury and property loss, but as Cohen et al. (Volume 4) explain, the information is insufficient to assess the overall cost consequences

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Page 91 of violent crime. Moreover, there are few ways at present to merge information from diverse sources as, for example, from emergency or other medical treatment and crime victim data bases. The inability to merge data sources has implications not only for calculating the consequences and costs of crime but also for calculating conditional probabilities in the causal chain of crimes and their consequences. This lack of baseline conditional probabilities complicates the task of assessing the efficacy of interventions to prevent violent crimes or meliorate their consequences. Available information on violent bias crimes lags far behind the pace of legislative initiatives in this area. In implementing the Hate Crimes Statistics Act of 1990, high priority should be given to supporting research on the following questions: (1) how various punishment schemes (e.g., increments to basic sentences) affect the incidence of violent bias crimes; (2) the psychological consequences of bias crime victimization; (3) individual risk factors for victimization among members of groups that are frequent objects of hate crimes; and (4) validation of hate violence counts obtained through the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting Program and analytical comparisons with the counts obtained from other sources, such as advocacy groups and community-based organizations. This chapter has pointed to various limitations of current information systems for measuring the national prevalence and incidence of violent crimes and their consequences, and for the victims of crimes. Those limitations imply a large number of recommendations, but the panel wishes to draw attention to five important information system needs at the local level to enhance our understanding of violent behavior and of interventions to control it. (1) There is a pressing need for statistical information systems that link information on injuries and their treatment to information about the violent event. The development of emergency and trauma center information to make it relevant to violent crime should be a high priority. In addition, more information could be obtained from current hospitalization and medical treatment surveys, and more detail on the extent of injury could be recorded in NCS and in the new incident-based UCR program. (2) There is an equally pressing need to develop information systems that will permit the calculation of probabilities of violent victimization conditional on circumstances. That information is useful public information for potential victims in assessing their personal risks, for researchers attempting to understand violent events, and for policy makers assessing the efficacy of

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Page 92   interventions to prevent violent crimes or meliorate their consequences. (3) Present information systems provide only limited information on many types of violent victimization in which there is considerable public interest and which are the major focus of public policy. These include intrafamily violence, violent sexual assaults of men, women, and children, and the persons confronted and occasionally killed in the course of commercial robbery. (4) Information on the consequences of violent crime and their costs is limited. There is almost no information on their cost to organizations and individuals. Efforts should be made to develop that information. At the present time there are no reliable ways to estimate the cost of the psychological consequences of crime such as fear of being victimized or the physical and psychological stress victims experience from past victimization. In addition, as Cohen et al. (Volume 4) conclude, there is little information on the nature and cost of victim services or of medical care. (5) There is a need for more reverse-record checks and other comparative analyses of events that are captured in systems for counting violent crimes, victimizations, injuries, and deaths. Such studies will facilitate more accurate estimates of the undercounts of violence inherent in each system. Notes 1   UCR and NCS count only forcible rapes (rape by force), excluding statutory rapes (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 1974:12; Bureau of Justice Statistics 1992:Glossary, p. 156). 2   Like the UCR, the NCS counts only the most serious event as an incident as defined by its hierarchy rules. Therefore, the assault of a victim during a robbery will be counted as only a robbery victimization. Neither system, consequently, offers an estimate of all violent crimes committed during an event. 3   The UCR program is being changed to an incident-based reporting system, which will provide more information on victims and offenders and will also eliminate the hierarchy rule that counts only the most serious crime in a compound event. 4   The NCS classifies all victimizations as either personal- or household-sector victimizations. Burglary, household larceny, and motor vehicle theft are household-sector victimizations. Personal-sector victimizations are classified as crimes of violence (rape, robbery, and assault) or crimes of theft (personal larceny with contact and personal larceny without contact). NCS violent victimizations are only roughly comparable to UCR index crimes of violence, for reasons discussed earlier in this chapter. 5   The calculation excludes an estimated 3,128,130 simple assaults

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Page 93 for crude comparisons with UCR. Their exclusion reduces the number of violent victimizations from 6,008,790 to 2,880,660. Aggravated assaults are attacks by one person on another for the purpose of inflicting severe or aggravated bodily injury. Attempts are included since it is not necessary that an injury result when a gun, a knife, or another weapon, including hands, fists, and feet, are used that could, and probably would, result in serious personal injury were the crime successfully completed. Both UCR and NCS classify injuries as serious when they result in broken bones, lost teeth, internal injuries, and loss of consciousness. The NCS also classifies any injury as serious if it requires two or more days of hospitalization. 6   Personal larcenies or personal crimes of theft include two subgroups. Personal larceny with contact involves personal contact between the victim and the offender and includes such crimes as purse snatching and pocket picking. Personal larceny without contact is theft of property of the victim without personal contact from any place other than the home or its immediate vicinity. The crime differs from household larceny only in the location in which the theft occurs. 7   The panel recognizes that the division between simple and aggravated assault involves considerable classification error and also that there are valid reasons for including simple assault as a violent crime, especially given its prevalence in domestic violence. 8   UCR violent index crimes are offenses of murder, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 1990:Table 1). 9   The inclusion of commercial and nonresidential offenses in the UCR but not the NCS also accounts for some of the difference, as it disproportionally increases the base for property crimes. 10 Because the Bureau of Justice Statistics (1989a) report is based on the National Crime Survey, it counts injuries only among surviving victims. Because death occurs in only about 1 percent of all victimizations involving injury, however, this statistical artifact has a negligible effect on the statistics reported here. 11 Loftin and Wiersma (1991) could not calculate risks for Hispanics because, at the time their data were collected, death certificates in only five states provided for that demographic category. 12 Single victim-single offender homicides account for only 54 percent of all homicides in which the ethnic status of victims was reported in 1990 (calculated from Federal Bureau of Investigation, 1990:11). 13 Age adjustment is a technique that applies the age-specific rates of a population to a standardized age distribution to eliminate the difference in observed rates that result from differences in population composition. For example, whites and females have lower infant mortality and longer life expectancies than blacks and males. Therefore, blacks and males are overrepresented in the ages of highest risk for criminality—a fact that would overstate gender/ethnic status homicide mortality differentials if no adjustment were made. Adjustment for age is usually done

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Page 94 to compare two or more populations at the same point in time or one or more populations at two or more points in time. 14 A commonly used measure of premature mortality due to a given cause of death is years of potential life lost (YPLL) before age 65. This measure is useful for comparing different causes of death in terms of premature mortality. However, blacks and males have shorter life expectancies than do whites and females, even when homicides are omitted from the calculation. Therefore comparisons by race and gender of YPLL before age 65 due to homicide overstate the relative premature mortality effects of homicide on blacks and males. 15 The reader should bear in mind that the young male adult military population exposed to battle deaths is also that most at risk of homicide. Hence the homicide rate for the resident U.S. population in war years will be below that expected for years when there are no battle deaths (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 1969:Table 1). 16 Until 1990, the NCS had reports of fewer than 10 sample cases of sexual assaults on males classified as forcible rape. The 1990 rate was reported as 0.2 per 1,000 males. There is a substantial underreporting of sexual assault on both males and females, but especially so for males at younger ages. Efforts should be made to secure more reliable measures of sexual assaults for both men and women at all ages. 17 Family income in the NCS includes the income of the household head and all other related persons residing in the same housing unit. The income of persons unrelated to the head of household is excluded (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1990:Glossary). 18 Numerators are counts of violent crime arrests in Federal Bureau of Investigation (1992:Table 38). Denominators are estimated populations, 12 years of age and over by race in Bureau of Justice Statistics (1992:Table 6). References Aurand, S.K., R. Adessa, and C. Bush 1985 Violence and discrimination against Philadelphia lesbian and gay people. (Available from Philadelphia Lesbian and Gay Task Force, 1501 Cherry Street, Philadelphia, PA 19102). Berrill, K.T. 1990 Anti-gay violence and victimization in the United States: An overview. Journal of Interpersonal Violence 5(3, September):274-294. Blumstein, A., J. Cohen, J.A. Roth, and C.A. Visher 1986 Criminal Careers and ''Career Criminals." Vol. I. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press. Bureau of the Census 1990 Statistical Abstract of the United States: 1990. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office.

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