Other Free Encyclopedias » Law Library - American Law and Legal Information » Crime and Criminal Law » Victims - Distinguishing Victims And Offenders, The Emergence Of Victim Concerns, National Crime Victimization Survey (ncvs)

Victims - The Incidence Of Victimization

black crime elderly males

The NCVS shows that Americans experience more than thirty million victimizations each year. In any one year, a person has about a 3 percent chance of being a victim of a crime of violence. That figure is more than double for property offenses.

Teenage black males are the most likely victims of crimes of violence, followed by teenage black females. The next four highest victimization rates, in descending order, are for teenage white males, young adult black males, young adult black females, and teenage white females. The elderly—be they male, female, black, or white—have the lowest victimization rates from violence.

Persons most victimized by property crimes are teenage white males and adult black males. Least victimized are elderly black males and elderly black females. This somewhat counterintuitive finding may result from property offenders targeting affluent neighborhoods where the haul is more likely to be worth the risk.

The surveys pinpoint the considerable toll that crimes of violence take upon young black youths. The strikingly lower rate of victization of elderly persons by both crimes of violence and property offenses in one respect challenges the rationality of the commonly reported high level of fear of crime found among the elderly. An explanation offered is that older persons often have the most to lose if they are victimized: They are less likely to be able to recover (or to survive) a violent crime and they often have no way to re-coup the financial loss inflicted by a burglary or other property offenses. In that regard, their fears can be seen as perfectly reasonable.

This finding of higher rates of fear of crime among the elderly, however, has been disputed by Kenneth Ferraro, who argues that too much has been made of answers to a single question on the NCVS survey and that failure to inquire about particular crimes rather than crime in general undercuts the adequacy of the responses to support the usual conclusion of a high level of fear of crime among the elderly. Ferraro's own work indicates that the only particular offense that the elderly fear more than persons in other age groups is panhandling, and that this fear is confined to older women.

Urban metropolitan areas, expectedly, show higher crime victimization rates than suburbs and rural areas. One victimization study found that about 31 percent of the robberies in which suburbanites were victims occurred while they were in a central city and only 6.2 percent outside that city's boundaries (Dodge, p. 2).

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