Another reporting tool by the Criminal Justice system is the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS).1 The NCVS is the primary source of information on the characteristics of criminal victimization and on the number and types of crimes not reported to law enforcement authorities. It provides the largest national forum for victims to describe the impact of crime and characteristics of violent offenders. And yet, there are discrepancies in this process as well.
They state that youth between the ages of 12 and 17 are twice as likely to be a victim of serious violent crime, and three times as likely to be a victim of a simple assault, than adults. What they fail to point out is that research shows that the most violence perpetrated against children occurs in the home. About 80% of perpetrators are the children’s own parents/caretakers.3
Since neither the UCR nor the NCVS capture the full range of data, the FBI created the National Incident Based Reporting System (NIBRS) in 1985 (28 years ago) to help law enforcement collect more detailed data on all incidents reported to their agencies. However, only 25% of the population is covered by NIBRS reporting, representing just 26% of the nation’s reported crime and 37% of law enforcement agencies. According to the FBI, five states currently have no formalized plan to report incident-based data.4
This may explain why they reported erroneously that “Only 1 in 5 offenses committed against children are committed by family members.” The Surgeon General stated that family violence is at an epidemic level.5 Half of all children (35.6 million) live in a household where a parent or other adult uses tobacco, drinks heavily or uses illicit drugs.6
All of this reinforces the reality that there really is no accurate data base to capture the extent of child abuse in America. Until we do, we can’t accurately address the problem.
2 “Juvenile Victimization and Offending 1993-2003,” U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, August 2005, http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/ascii/jvo03.txt
3 Child Welfare Information Gateway, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2007
4 Justice Research and Statistic Association http://www.jrsa.org/ibrrc/background-status/nibrs_states.shtml
5 “The Surgeon General’s Report on Mental Health,” 1999
6 Family Matters: Substance Abuse and the American Family, The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, March 2005