Is sexual assault REALLY going down, or is the public being fed the wrong statistics?
There is a public misconception regarding crime statistics in the United States. Frequently we seem to hear about children, woman, and sometimes even men, who are sexually assaulted and murdered. We also frequently hear the public gasp in astonishment at these types of crimes while commenting “but I thought sex crimes were going down”.
Here is the issue. Much of the crime statistics that are sited come from the Uniform Crime Reports for each state and from the FBI Uniform Crime Reports. These statistics are captured based on the hierarchy rule, meaning that the most serious crime is the one that is captured in the statistic. What this means is that if you have a burglary, turned robbery, turned sexual assault, turned murder, then only the murder is captured as a statistic. In the example I gave, the sexual assault (rape) would not be counted.
Another source of crime statistics is the National Crime Victim Surveys. The NCVS captures all of the crimes committed against the victim, provided the victim did not die. The NCVS talks to the victim, so if there was a burglary, turned robbery, turned sexual assault, then all those individual crimes will be captured. However, if the NCVS is looking at a robbery, turned burglary, turned sexual assault, turned murder, then the NCVS will capture none of the crimes in their statistics. The reason is that the NCVS interviews living victims, if the victim dies there is no one to interview, hence there is no statistic.
Therefore, the question is not whether the crime of sexual assault has decreased in the United States, but if the crime of sexual assault is, more often than not, being escalated to include murder. If this is the case then the number fed to the public about the decrease of sex crimes can only be based on the number of living victims and not on the actual number of occurrences.
I would like to see the state and FBI Uniform Crime Reports start capturing the number of victims who were sexually assaulted AND murdered. I think that there is a fair possibility that those numbers would NOT reflect a substantial decrease in sexual assaults, but rather a substantial decrease in live victims.
If you are confused, I can give you some examples of what I mean. Dylan Groene was raped and murdered, as was Jessica Lunsford, Polly Klass, Dru Sjodin, and countless others. Only the statistic for their death (their murder) is counted and in the world of crime statistics, these people were NEVER raped.