The longstanding general trend of declining violent crime in the United States, which began in the 1990s, has reversed direction in recent years per the National Crime Survey.
If violence is growing, it’s not necessarily the explosive increases as during the crack cocaine days of the 1980s to the mid-1990s, but for many cities and states, the latest increases in violence are a real concern.
There are those insisting that we have never lived in safer times due to an almost continuous (and considerable) twenty-year plus decline in crime, but that argument is getting stale since the increases in violence began in 2015 per one or more of the three national reports, including Gallup.
If you read the daily crime reports and newspaper accounts on this site and others, you get a sense that there is a growing concern regarding violence in America. Fear of crime in the US is a significant problem, Fear.
Decreases in 2014 and 2013 from two national reports (FBI and National Crime Survey) and increases in crime found in National Crime Survey data (for 2011 and 2012, categories in 2016 and numbers and rates comparing 2015-2017), and the 2012, 2015 and 2016 FBI reports (violent crime increases-violence was flat in 2017), and the 4.3 percent decrease for the first six months of 2018 per the FBI create mixed results and need to be watched carefully, but the trend over decades is clearly down, while increasing in recent years per the National Crime Survey and Gallup.
Most of the sixteen categories of violent crime rates increased from 2015 to 2017 via the National Crime Survey, Crime in America.
Now we have updated date from The National Crime Survey stating that the increases continue. From 2015 to 2018, the total number of violent victimizations increased by 28%. The rate of total violent victimizations also increased.
Have Past Record Lows for Crime Ended?
Probably, but the bottom line is that violent and property crimes are still at record lows for the country and, generally speaking, have been decreasing for the last two decades except for recent years.
There have been additional increases since 1990; the rate of violent crime in the US increased in 2005 and 2006 (via FBI data) but the index returned to decreases in 2007.
Data from the National Crime Survey also state that we are at record lows for criminal activity. From 1993 to 2015, the rate of violent crime declined from 79.8 to 18.6 victimizations per 1,000 persons age 12 or older.
Using the FBI numbers, the violent crime rate fell 48% between 1993 and 2016. Using data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics (National Crime Survey), the rate fell 74% during that span, Pew.
Is America Entering a New Era of Increasing Violence?
Possibly. Violent crime is increasing in some (not all) cities and states throughout the US.
The number of persons who had been victims of violent crime is up 17 percent from 2015-2017 per the National Crime Survey. From 2015 to 2018, the total number of violent victimizations increased 28%.
The new report from the Bureau Of Justice Statistics states that the number of violent incidents increased from 5.2 million in 2017 to 6.0 million in 2018.
But per the FBI, violent crime was flat for 2017 and is down for the first six months of 2018, Crime in America.
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It’s unfortunate that an objective analysis of crime in America has become a political issue with major newspapers and some criminologists insisting that violent crime is not increasing while additional media outlets and criminologists insist that it is.
Per the FBI (crime reported to police) national crime was flat or decreased slightly for the last two years.
Per the National Crime Survey, numbers and rates have increased significantly from 2015 to 2018.
Per Gallup, household crime for 2018 increased. 24% of households were victimized by violent or property crimes (excluding cybercrimes) in 2018, up from the 22% who said the same last year. Beyond the 24 percent of households victimized by violent and property crimes, 23% of U.S. households were victimized by cybercrime in 2018.
78 percent of Americans worry about crime and violence a great deal or a fair amount, the same as health care, the number one issue per Gallup.
New National Crime Survey Highlights-Released on September 10, 2019
The longstanding general trend of declining violent crime in the United States, which began in the 1990s, has reversed direction in recent years, based on findings from the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), one of two major sources of crime statistics in the United States.
Meanwhile, the long-term decline in property crime has continued in recent years.
From 2017 to 2018, there were no statistically significant changes in the rates of total violent victimization, which includes rape or sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault, and simple assault.
By type of violent crime, the rate of rape or sexual-assault victimization increased from 1.4 victimizations per 1,000 persons age 12 or older in 2017 to 2.7 in 2018. All other crime types did not have a statistically significant change from 2017 to 2018.
There were increases in some forms of violent victimizations from 2017 to 2018. The total rate of completed (as opposed to attempted or threatened) violent victimizations increased from 5.6 to 6.9 per 1,000 persons age 12 or older over that span, while the rate of rape or sexual assault (completed, attempted, or threatened) increased from 1.4 to 2.7 victimizations per 1,000 persons age 12 or older.
The rate of violent victimization increased from 2015 to 2018.
From 2015 to 2018, statistically significant changes occurred in the total number and rate of violent victimizations and in specific types of violent-crime victimizations. Across that period, the total number of violent victimizations increased 28%, from 5,006,620 to 6,385,520 victimizations.
The rate of total violent victimization increased from 18.6 to 23.2 victimizations per 1,000 persons. Excluding simple assault, the rate of violent victimization also increased, from 6.8 victimizations per 1,000 persons age 12 or older in 2015 to 8.6 per 1,000 in 2018.
The rate of rape or sexual-assault victimization increased from 1.6 to 2.7 victimizations per 1,000 persons age 12 or older from 2015 to 2018. The rate of assault (which includes aggravated and simple assault) increased from 14.8 to 18.4 victimizations during the period, and the rate of simple assault rose from 11.8 to 14.6 victimizations.
After declining by more than 60% from 1994 to 2015 (the most recent year in which a 1-year decline was observed), the number of violent-crime victims rose from 2015 to 2016, and again from 2016 to 2018.
From 2015 to 2018, the portion of the U.S. population age 12 or older who were victims of violent crime increased from 0.98% to 1.18% (up 20%).
While violent crime rose in recent years, property crime fell, as the percentage of households that were victims of property crime decreased from 7.99% in 2014 to 7.27% in 2018. Over that same span, the percentage of households that were victims of burglary fell from 1.27% to 1.07%.
The total number of violent victimizations (that is, the total number of times that people were victims of violent crime) increased from 5,007,000 victimizations of U.S. residents age 12 or older in 2015 to 6,386,000 victimizations in 2018.
The full report is available at, Criminal Victimization, 2018.
See more articles on crime and justice at Crime in America.
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For the sake of simplicity, I refer to the National Crime Victimization Survey from the Bureau of Justice Statistics of the US Department of Justice as the National Crime Survey. It’s the basis for this article.
The National Crime Survey consists of interviews with Americans and households. The National Crime Survey exists because the majority of criminal events in the US are not reported to the police. The FBI collects crimes reported to law enforcement. Gallup uses polling data.
For a comparison of the three principal national crime reports (FBI, National Crime Survey and Gallup), see Crime in The US.
The National Crime Survey data for this report principally uses data from 2015 to 2018, but it also offers comparisons from 2017-2018.
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