Violent Crime Victimization

Publication Date:

Dec 20, 2018

Key facts about violent crime victimization

  • In 2016, the rate of violent crime victimization among adolescents reached 28 per 1,000 population, a substantial decline from a 1994 peak of 181 per 1,000. Much of this change can be attributed to the decline in simple assaults, which fell from 119 to 20 per 1,000 over that time period.
  • Younger adolescents had higher rates of violent crime victimization than their older peers: In 2016, young people ages 12 to 14 experienced a rate of 35 violent crimes per 1,000, compared with 27 and 23 per 1,000 among adolescents ages 15 to 17 and 18 to 20, respectively.
  • Among adolescents ages 15 to 17, non-Hispanic black youth are more likely to be the victims of violent crime: From 2014–2016, the rates were 39, 26, and 15 per 1,000 population, for non-Hispanic black, non-Hispanic white, and Hispanic youth, respectively.

Trends in violent crime victimization 

By 2016, the rate of victimization from violent crimes (which include rape, robbery, and aggravated and simple assaults) for adolescents ages 12 to 20 had fallen to a little over one-sixth of the rate in the mid-1990s—from a high of 181 victimizations per 1,000 population, to 28 victimizations per 1,000. There were major declines in most types of violent crime during this period, including simple assault, aggravated assault, and robbery. For example, from 1994 to 2016, rates of aggravated assault victimization fell from 38 to 5 per 1,000 adolescents ages 12 to 20 (Appendix 1).1

Differences by type of victimization

Most adolescent victims of violent crime are victims of simple assault. In 2016, simple assault accounted for 76 percent of all violent crime victimization for adolescents ages 12 to 14, 67 percent for adolescents ages 15 to 17, and 62 percent for adolescents ages 18 to 20. Aggravated assault was the next-most common, followed by rape/sexual assault and robbery (Appendix 1).

Differences by age

In 2014–2016, adolescents ages 12 to 14 experienced higher rates of violent crime victimization than their older peers (36 per 1,000, compared with 26 and 21 per 1,000 among youth ages 15 to 17 and 12 to 14, respectively). Children ages 12 to 14 experienced the highest rate of simple assault (28 per 1,000, compared with 17 and 12 per 1,000 among youth ages 15 to 17 and 18 to 20, respectively). Adolescents ages 18 to 20 experienced higher rates of rape or sexual assault than their younger peers (2.4 per 1,000, compared with 1.4 and 1.0 per 1,000 among youth ages 15 to 17 and 12 to 14, respectively) (Appendix 2).

Differences by gender

Among youth ages 12 to 14, males had a higher rate of violent crime victimization than their female peers in 2014–2016: The overall victimization rate was 38 per 1,000 males, compared with 34 per 1,000 among females. Differences were particularly stark for rates of simple assault, at 31 simple assaults per 1,000 males, compared with 25 per 1,000 females (Appendix 2).

Among youth ages 15 to 17, males again had a higher rate of violent crime victimization than their female peers, at 29 and 22 per 1,000, respectively. Males had higher victimization rates for aggravated assault, simple assault, or robbery, but a lower rate than their female peers for sexual assault or rape.

Among young adults ages 18 to 20, males still had a slightly higher rate of overall violent crime victimization than their female peers, at 23 and 20 per 1,000, respectively. Males were more than three times as likely to be the victims of robbery (4.8 versus 1.3 per 1,000), but females were much more likely to be the victims of sexual assault or rape (4.3 versus less than 1 per 1,000) (Appendix 2).

Differences by race and Hispanic origin2

In 2014–2016, non-Hispanic white youth ages 18 to 20 had a slightly higher rate of violent crime victimization than their non-Hispanic black and Hispanic peers (24 versus 20 and 18 per 1,000, respectively). This disparity was driven by differences in the rates of simple assault. Among youth ages 12 to 14 and 15 to 17 in 2014–2016, non-Hispanic black youth had higher rates of violent crime victimization than their non-Hispanic white and Hispanic peers. Among 12- to 14-year-olds, non-Hispanic black youth experienced a victimization rate of 39 per 1,000, compared with 34 per 1,000 for both their non-Hispanic white and Hispanic peers. Among 15- to 17-year-olds, the rates were 39, 26, and 15 per 1,000, respectively (Appendix 2).

Data and appendices

Data source

Child Trends’ calculations using U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics. (2018). NCVS Victimization Analysis Tool [Data tool]. Retrieved from https://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=nvat.

Raw data source

National Crime Victimization Survey.
http://www.icpsr.umich.edu/NACJD/NCVS/#About_NCVS

Appendices

Appendix 1. Violent Crime Victimization Rates (Per 1,000 Population), by Type of Crime and Age: 1993–2016
Appendix 2. Violent Crime Victimization Rates (Per 1,000 Population), by Age, Gender, Race, and Type of Crime: 2014–2016

Background

Definition

Rates and estimates are based on self-reported data from interviews conducted for the National Crime Victimization Survey. In most cases, crimes were reported by the teenagers themselves. If the teen was age 12 or 13, a knowledgeable adult household member may have responded for the teen.

For this indicator, violent crime includes robbery, simple assault, aggravated assault, and rape/sexual assault. Simple assault is defined as attack without a weapon resulting in either no injury, minor injury, or an undetermined injury requiring less than two days of hospitalization. Aggravated assault is defined as attack or attempted attack with a weapon, regardless of whether an injury occurred, and attack without a weapon when serious injury results.

These estimates do not include victims of homicide.

Citation

Child Trends. (2018). Violent Crime Victimization. Retrieved from https://www.childtrends.org/indicators/violent-crime-victimization.

Endnotes

1. Although these statistics are based on victims’ self-reports, it is important to note that the majority of child and youth victims of crimes are “hidden.” That is, they are not known to police, school, or medical authorities. One estimate is that only 13 percent of children victimized in the past year were known to police, and 46 percent were known to school, police, or medical authorities. Among the serious victimizations largely unknown by authorities were dating violence and completed and attempted rape. Certain groups of victims—boys, Hispanics, and youth with higher socioeconomic status—were especially less likely to be known to authorities. See Finkelhor, D., Ormrod, R., Turner, H., & Hamby, S. (2012). Child and youth victimization known to police, school, and medical authorities. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. Retrieved from http://www.ojjdp.gov/pubs/235394.pdf.
2. Hispanic youth may be of any race.