Crime and Violence
Crime and violence are facts of life for many Americans; in 1990 alone, 19 million crimes were committed, and nearly a third of them involved violence.102 The most common form of violent crime is assault, the attack of one person on another. Aggravated assault, which involves a weapon or causes serious but nonfatal injury, accounted for roughly 30% of all violent crimes, while simple assault accounted for another 50% of violent crimes. By comparison, forcible rape and murder are rare; rape accounts for about 2% of violent crimes, while violent crime results in the death of the victim in 0.4% of cases. Yet, in 1990, 23,000 people were murdered; the fact that these deaths represent less than 1% of the violent crimes in the United States shows the magnitude of the problem. The rate of violent crime in the United States far exceeds that of any other industrialized nation. Among 16 such nations surveyed in 1988, the United States had the highest rate of murder, the highest rate of assault, and the highest rate of sexual assault.
Those most at risk of suffering from violent crime are racial or ethnic minorities; blacks were 41% and Hispanics 32% more likely than whites to be victimized.102 The rate of death by homicide among blacks is about 5 times higher than among whites, and the death rate among young black males specifically is 20 times higher than among older white females. In many ways, the victimizers resemble the victims; perpetrators of violent crime are overwhelmingly male (89% of those arrested) and blacks are 6 times more likely than whites to be arrested for