Crime Victimization in the US: A Data-Driven Learning Guide Go to Resource


Crime victimization is defined as the involuntary, personal exposure to criminal acts. Victimization can be economic, physical, psychological and/or emotional.

It is difficult to know exactly how many crimes are committed and how many people are victimized every year because a significant percentage of crimes (almost half of violent crimes and about one third of property crimes) go unreported to, or undiscovered by, police. Criminologists refer to this unknown as the "dark figure of crime." By polling a large number of households, victimization surveys such as the National Crime Victimization Survey are able to uncover some of the crime incidents that were never reported or discovered by police. They also provide more detailed information about the crime, victim, and offender(s), than other official sources of crime statistics such as the FBI's Uniform Crime Reports. Victimization surveys are therefore an important source of data for criminologists, but they are not without their limitations. For example, they rely on respondents' honesty and ability to recall facts accurately; since they typically survey only people 12 and older, they provide no data on crimes committed against children; and since they survey crime victims, there is no data on murders either, for obvious reasons!

The goal of this exercise is to explore crime victimization in the US. Frequencies, crosstabulations and comparisons of means will be used.

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Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research
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