Rape Plummeted in 2000, Says Justice Department
June 13, 2001-Statistics just released by the US Justice Department show that the number of rapes, attempted rapes and sexual assaults plummeted last year. This large decline in sex crimes helped drive the nation's overall violent crime total down by 15% last year.
According to the 2000 National Crime Victimization Survey, the total number of rapes, attempted rapes and sexual assault dropped to 261,000 last year, from 383,000 in 1999. This 32% decline in 2000 followed 1999's increase of 15% over 1998's total sex crimes figures.
Since 1993, rapes have declined by 60%; attempted rapes by 71.4%; and sexual assaults by 37.5%, according to NCVS figures. While statistics for any single years may fluctuate wildly due to small sample size, statistics over several years are considered more reliable.
These new Justice Department figures contradict figures released by the FBI earlier this year. The FBI showed forcible rapes increased last year by 0.7%. The FBI counts only rapes actually reported to police. Further, the FBI statistics include only forcible (not statutory) rapes, and only attacks on women. The FBI does not count sexual assaults.
The new statistics are part of the annual National Crime Victimization Survey, the country's most comprehensive crime measure. NCVS reflects interviews with 159,420 people age 12 and older. It reflects all crimes revealed in these interviews, whether or not they were reported to police.
Teenagers 16-19 were more than twice as likely as any other age group to be victims of rape or sexual assault, similar to previous years' figures. People age 12-15 and 20-24 are also in high-risk groups; after age 24, the rate of attacks steadily declines.
Last year, 62% of victims reported that they knew their attacker; most often, the rapist was a friend or acquaintance. In 34% of rapes and sexual assaults, the victim did not know their attacker. Forty-eight percent of victims said they reported the crime to police, up dramatically from last year's 28%. However, BJS researchers cautioned that this subsample was too small to be reliable.
RAINN hailed the new study. "While we should be cautious about a single year's data, the longterm trend is clear and encouraging, said RAINN President Scott Berkowitz. "It's impossible to isolate a single reason for the decline, but it does suggest that tougher sentences and national education programs by RAINN and others are having an effect. We have seen a cultural shift: Just a few years ago, rape was not something discussed in polite company. This year, every single national TV network has donated airtime to publicize RAINN's hotline. Today's evidence of success shows that the good guys are winning, for a change."
Number of Sex Crimes, 1999 vs. 2000
Rape 141,000 92,000
Attempted Rape 60,000 55,000
Sexual Assault 182,000 114,000
Total Rape & SA 383,000 261,000
Percentage Decline in Sexual Crimes, Selected Periods
1993-2000 1994-2000 1998-2000 1999-2000
Rape -60.0% -42.9% -20.0% -33.3&
Attempted Rape -71.4% -71.4% -50.0% -33.3%
Sexual Assault -37.5% -16.7% -16.7% -37.5%
Total -52.0% -42.9% -20.0% -29.4%
Source for all statistics: US Justice Department, Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2000 National Crime Victimization Survey.
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The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network is the nation's largest
anti-sexual assault organization. With a national perspective and broad
reach, RAINN is a trusted resource for media, policymakers and the public.
Additionally, RAINN operates the National Sexual Assault Hotline at
1.800.656.HOPE. Comprised of more than 1,000 local affiliates, the hotline
has helped more than half a million victims of sexual assault since 1994.
For more information, please visit the RAINN website at www.rainn.org