U.S. Violent Crime on the Rise: Where and Why
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- Violent crime in the U.S. has been rising since 2014, despite the fact that overall crime has declined since 1980.
- Murder rates vary greatly by city – St. Louis, Missouri had the highest murder rate in the U.S. in 2017.
According to our partners at USAFacts, a non-partisan, not-for-profit civic initiative aimed at making government data accessible and understandable, reported violent crime in the U.S. rose in both 2015 and 2016 (the most recent year for which comprehensive data are available). Violent crime includes aggravated assault, robbery, murder, non-negligent manslaughter, and rape.
Aggravated assault is the most common crime, with a rate nearly five times higher than murder and non-negligent manslaughter. Robberies and assaults have greatly decreased since the early 1990s, while the murder rate has not changed significantly since 1980, according to USAFacts.
The rate of reported rapes had also been holding steady since 1980, but preliminary data indicate that it went up in 2017.
According to the annual Major Cities Chiefs Association Violent Crimes Survey – which features preliminary 2017 urban crime data – among violent crimes, rapes and aggravated assaults increased in major cities in 2017, while homicides, robberies, and murders decreased.
The data show which cities had the highest murder rates in 2017:
- St. Louis, Missouri: 64.9 murders per 100,000 people
- Baltimore, Maryland: 51.1 per 100,000
- New Orleans, Louisiana: 40.6 per 100,000
- Detroit, Michigan: 39.7 per 100,000
- Cleveland, Ohio: 33.7 per 100,000
- Las Vegas, Nevada: 31.4 per 100,000
- Kansas City, Missouri: 31.2 per 100,000
- Memphis, Tennessee: 27.1 per 100,000
- Newark, New Jersey: 25.6 per 100,000
- Chicago, Illinois: 24 per 100,000
Numerous complex factors account for criminal behavior, as well as for people’s willingness to report crimes.
For instance, some experts conjecture that the increase in rape reports could indicate not so much an increase in actual rapes, as an increase in the number of victims who report to the police. Rape is historically significantly underreported.
Some experts say that the war on drugs contributes to violence. Criminologists and law enforcement personnel alike acknowledge that the most common examples of “criminogenic trends” that generate increases in murder and other violent crimes are gang- and drug-related homicides.
A study published this week found that even small improvements in parents’ social mobility can significantly reduce the likelihood of children growing up to commit violent crimes. The chance of children eventually being convicted of violence is almost halved if their family moves from the poorest 20 percent of society to the next bracket up, the study found.
What do you think?
What should be done about violent crime? Tell your reps what you think, then share your thoughts below.
—Sara E. Murphy
(Photo Credit: iStock.com / LPETTET)
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