By Kerry Rudd, Journalism Guild Writer
Violent crime decreased in America during the past two years, except for rape, a recent analysis reports.
Decreases were reported in murder, robbery and assault – three of the four categories of violent crime that the FBI tracks. The fourth is rape.
“The rate for rape bucked this trend, however, up slightly for 2018, and in each of the last six years,” according to the Sept. 30 story by the Marshall Project. Rapes rose to 42.6 cases per 100,000 people
The violent crime rate in the U.S. fell 3.9 percent in 2018, according to data released by the FBI. Last year’s decline is a continuation of the trend seen across the country since the high-violence era of the early ‘90s.
The statistics are recorded by police departments across the country and compiled annually by the FBI.
Violent crimes spiked in 2015 and 2016, but dropped the following two years.
“That’s a really good sign that the long term trend towards greater safety is not in fact reversed, and we’re moving past whatever happened in 2015 and 2016,” said Ames Grawert of the New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice. “It’s a reminder that two years isn’t a trend, and two years doesn’t break a trend.”
Rape increased 18 percent over the last six years. Each year the rate of rapes steadily increased. In 2013 the FBI changed the definition it had of rape as the forcible “carnal knowledge of a female” to the current definition which is centered in consent, rather than force.
“Rape increasing every year since the definition change is not just statistical variation. That’s a trend that’s worth talking about,” Grawert said.
The data released by the FBI comes after heightened numbers in reported rapes by the National Criminal Victimization Survey. Rapes almost doubled in one year.
The annual survey collects a random sampling of Americans and their experiences as victims of crime. The 2018 survey estimates that 734,630 people were raped. That’s more than five times the number collected by the FBI’s report.
Many attribute the rise in rapes to the evolving social milieu. The #metoo movement and increased awareness of campus rape, could be factors contributing to the increase in reports, the Marshall Project concluded.
With increased awareness, assault survivors are in a better position to diagnose an experience as rape, the story said.
“We may well have more ability to recognize experiences for the crimes that they are and be able to name them, which I don’t think has been true historically,” said Kristen Houser of the National Sexual Violence Resource. “And that’s a result of more people talking about it, reporting on it, reading it, etc.”