Violent Crime: Are We Even More at Risk Than Statistics Show?
Updated: Feb 28, 2022
We’ve reported elsewhere about the huge increase in violent crime across the United States, especially in big cities.
Most of these headlines deal with the huge increase in murder rates. And I use the term murder rates specifically because the total number of murders in a city does not give as clear an indication of violence in that city as does the city's murder rate. That’s generally given as the amount of murders per 100,000 residents.
That gives us a better sense of how violent the community is because a small city might have less total murders but a grossly larger murder rate. That indicates to me that the city is actually more violent.
Now here’s the thing – – the skyrocketing murder numbers are the brightest click bait headlines, but the real levels of violent crime might be hidden somewhat because of the focus on the murder rate.
The murder rate is easy to track because it is definitive. There is a body and it is a result of the violence of another person.
Now consider these effects on the murder rate:
Tremendous leaps in emergency medicine facilitated by the trauma lessons learned in America’s wars overseas are saving people who would otherwise died 10 years ago.
Similarly, the rapid adoption of the carry and use of tourniquets by first responders has no doubt saved people in the field before transport to the ER.
The two items above are most likely saving people who otherwise would have died from the attack in which they would have been added to the murder stats. Instead, these people that narrowly missed being murdered are the victims of the next lowest level of crimes.
If you live through your attack, your crime moves into another area. Still a high-level felony to be sure, but not murder.
The prosecutor’s office might still charge the attacker with attempted murder. But…that entails establishing intent, a motive, premeditation, etc.
Related: Why We Can't Know Motive or Intent
As an overworked prosecutor, wouldn’t it be easier to get the criminal to plea to a lesser charge? As the prosecutor, I still get the “win” because I got the conviction, the community gets the “win” because a dangerous criminal is taken off the street, and the court system gets the “win” because it lessens the staggering load of cases pending.
So, get the plea deal down to aggravated assault or assault with a deadly weapon – whatever the legal language is in your jurisdiction.
As the victim, you are still seriously injured. You could have died. In fact, you might have been close to dying, but were saved by the heroic efforts of first responders and emergency room personnel. You most likely still have serious, life-altering injuries. You probably will never be the same physically and emotionally.
You were almost murdered. But the system doesn’t work to prove you were almost murdered. It works to get the most certain verdict. Or it works in an agonizingly slow fashion as to be almost imperceptible.
I’ve known about this in the world of women’s self-defense for a long time because the rape statistics are glaringly inaccurate. Cities, universities, military bases, and businesses have all manipulated statistics by under reporting, shifting boundaries, or flat out hiding the numbers when reported by women.
The plea dealing here has been, and continues to be, a huge factor. Sexual assault and rape cases are difficult to prove because of the problem surrounding informed consent. That means it is way easier for prosecutors to get the rapist to agree to a lesser charge of assault or aggravated assault. Even if they can’t get the rapist to agree to the deal, it is substantially easier to prove in court assault charges or injuries caused by a weapon than it is to prove the rape case. Hence, the statistics surrounding the rate of rapes in this country are most likely severely underreported.
However, this simplified explanation of the process might not even be appropriate in today’s fracturing political and cultural environment. There has been a spate of high-profile cases where prosecutors are not charging criminals or releasing criminals back onto the street.
This has another effect on the statistics being used to track crime rates. Perhaps now we have crimes that are not actually showing up in the system because the criminal has not either been charged, their charges are dropped later, or prosecution is delayed so long as to make the statistics a lagging rather than leading indicator of violence.
So, the bottom line here is to realize that we cannot have complete certainty with knowing how dangerous our community is. Face it, as humans we crave certainty. Those of us who want to rely on the numbers are rapidly finding out that the numbers being reported don’t always accurately portray what is actually happening.
What Are My Odds of Being Victimized?
If I can’t trust these statistics, how can I figure out my exposure to crime and the odds of me or family members being victimized?
I’ve seen people looking at how often they travel to or through a perceived high-crime area. They feel that increases their odds. Some people feel if they don’t travel their odds are less.
Could be. The less interaction we have with other humans it would seem likely that our odds of human induced violence would go down. That means less stops at gas stations, less stops at convenience markets, and less visits to the shopping mall would make our lives statistically safer. If I don’t drive, then I can’t get carjacked. Right?
But just because you don’t travel doesn’t mean the criminals don’t travel. They can and they do:
Thefts of catalytic converters
Smash and grab mobs
You have what they want. And they will travel to you to get it.
First, let’s start with the fact that we do not have 100% chance of being victimized or attacked. There are a lot of simple things like locking our doors which dramatically decreases the chances we will be confronted by criminals. Even then, we could stumble through life as innocent as a baby and still not expect 100% certainty of being attacked.
On the other hand we cannot assure ourselves of a 0% chance of being attacked. Just living life presents a number of opportunities for mayhem. Heck there are numerous examples regarding attacks by family members against other family members. As a woman, the chance of being attacked by your intimate partner is probably the number one threat you face. People shooting up their workplaces is still a thing.
Can we agree that our chances are somewhere between 0 – 100%?
Take Control for More Self-Defense Certainty
So let me take responsibility for my immediate safety and the safety of my family. I can do that by focusing on the elements of self-defense that I can control:
My levels of awareness
My knowledge of the moral and legal implications surrounding the use of force
My fighting skills and abilities
My level of physical fitness
My equipment and defensive tools
Working with my family to inform and instill these items.
Take a look at more discussion in the post:
Control What You Can Now -- And Always be Improving for Self-Defense.
Like your life depends on it.