Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Rise in Crime Rate Shows Trends, Raises Questions Experts Ask If 1989 Increase Points to Upward Growth in Years to Come. FBI STATISTICS

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Rise in Crime Rate Shows Trends, Raises Questions Experts Ask If 1989 Increase Points to Upward Growth in Years to Come. FBI STATISTICS

Article excerpt

BEHIND the flat statistics of crime in America rising 2 percent in 1989, just released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, lie broader questions: Who are the people victimized by all this crime? In violent crimes did most victims and criminals know each other? And do the figures indicate that America is moving to a significantly higher rate of crime in the years ahead?

A good deal is known about the victims of crime. But no one can say with certainty which crime is shooting up over the long haul.

Although women and the elderly in general are most fearful of being crime victims, they are the least victimized, according to studies. "Fear of crime is not just related to risk," statistician Michael Rand of the Bureau of Justice Statistics. "It is also related to persons' belief in their ability to come out of crime uninjured." Many women and elderly men have "a feeling of helplessness" at the thought of being victimized, he adds.

In violent and most other crimes, Mr. Rand says, "men are victimized more than women; blacks more than whites; the young (16 to 24) more than the old; and people in cities more than people in rural and suburban areas."

"Interracial crime is far less common than people think," says crime specialist Gail Funke, a sociology professor at James Madison University in Washington, D.C. "Mostly it's black on black, and white on white."

A Department of Justice sample study of nearly 4 million crimes in the 1980s found that five times as many crimes were committed by white criminals as black ones against white victims, Dr. Funke says. Similarly, eight times as many crimes were committed against blacks by black criminals as by white ones. Relationship with victims

Overall, "more violent crimes are committed by strangers," Funke says, "but more murders are committed by people who know each other." She cites Justice Department statistics that report that in about three-quarters of all robberies, criminals did not know their victims. But she adds that in murders, "the victim and the offender knew each other in over half of all homicides - 57 percent."

No one yet knows how much of the male-on-male violence is drug related, says Matt Silberman, a sociology professor at Bucknell University. Law enforcement authorities say many of today's fatal urban shootings stem from disputes over drugs, and often over drug distribution "rights."

Across the United States, crime reported by police departments to the FBI rose 2 percent from 1988 to 1989, according to the US Justice Department statistics made public Sunday. Violent crime increased 5 percent, and property crime by 2 percent.

Further, the rate of murder continues to accelerate thus far in 1990 by about 8 percent nationwide, according to a report of the Senate Judiciary Committee, made public July 31. …

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