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Violence Against Blacks Decreases In The U.S.

Violence against blacks in the U.S. has dropped dramatically over the last decade. The Bureau of Statistics for the U.S. Justice Department showed that, between 1993 and 2001, violent victimization of blacks decreased by nearly 57% and remained stable through 2005. These rates were consistent for all age subgroups except those over 50 years old.

Black males fared better (61%) than black females (53%) in the overall decline. However, urban areas still proved to be more dangerous for the black population than rural areas, violent victimization from 2001 to 2005 did not vary significantly between any of the subgroups. However, in 2005 black males were more likely to be victims of violent crimes than their female counterparts.

In 2005 blacks accounted for nearly half of all homicide victims. While blacks comprise only 13% of the U.S. population they accounted for 8,000 of the 16,500 murder victims that year. About 6,800 of those victims were males while 1,200 were females. Just as with non-fatal victims, murder rates for blacks increased with population density.

About 93% of single-victim/single-offender black homicides were committed by other blacks as compared to 85% for whites. Women were the offenders in about 10% of those homicides.

When subgrouped by “intimate partners” (current or former spouses, boyfriends/girlfriends and same-sex relationships) homicide rates were only half (6%) that of whites (12%) in 2005. Gang related homicides was also slightly less (5%) for blacks than for whites (7%). However, over three-quarters (77%) of blacks were killed with some type of firearm as compared to only (60%) of white homicide victims.

Intraracial victimization was also the norm for most non-fatal violence committed against blacks. About 80% of black victims described their attackers as other blacks. Only 12% of black victims said they were attacked by whites.

Black males were, in most cases, victimized by strangers while black females were usually victimized by intimate partners. The rate of victimization among intimate partners was consistent along racial lines.

In about 31% of non-fatal attacks victims sustained some form of injury. However, more than half (54%) of those inju-ries did not require a sustained hospital visit. Most were treated either at the scene, at home (including neighbors or friends) or in an out-patient status. Still, over half (52%) of victims of violent attacks were likely to be treated as compared to only 37% of simple assault victims.

The study shows that, in 2005, about 72% of serious non-fatal violent crimes against blacks involved some form of weapon. About 35% of those victims actually reported being confronted with some sort of weapon. One in seven black victims of non-fatal violence were confronted with a firearm. These statistics remained consistent from 1993 to 2005. This consistency also remained across the racial demographic when compared to whites and Hispanics. Whites and Hispanics had a slightly higher percentage of injury during non-fatal, violent encounters.

Black victims of violent, non-fatal crimes were less likely than almost every other racial group to have been attacked by someone on alcohol or drugs. Only 25% of black victims perceived that their attacker was on drugs as compared to 27% for Hispanics, 31% for whites and 40% for Native Americans.

The rate for victims of gang initiated violence was similar among blacks as compared to Hispanics and American Indi-ans but was lower than whites. However, these numbers are suspect since, in 43% of non-fatal attacks, black victims could not say for sure if their assailant was a gang member or not.

The study did not postulate any correlation between the lower rates of violence and the aging out of the baby boomer population.

Source: Bureau of Justice Statistics Report; August 2007

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