Child Victimizers: Violent Offenders and their Victims

Oct 13, 2009 - by - 0 Comments

child victomizers

by Lawrence A. Greenfeld

Statistician, Bureau of Justice Statistics

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Highlights

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*An estimated 18.6% of inmates serving time in State prisons in 1991 for violent crimes, or about 61,000 offenders nationwide, had been convicted of a crime against a victim under age 18.

*1 in 5 violent offenders serving time in a State prison reported having victimized a child.

*More than half the violent crimes committed against children involved victims age 12 or younger.

*7 in 10 offenders with child victims reported that they were imprisoned for a rape or sexual assault.

*Two-thirds of all prisoners convicted of rape or sexual assault had committed their crime against a child.

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Characteristics of the offenders

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*All but 3% of offenders who committed violent crimes against children were male.

*Offenders who had victimized a child were on average 5 years older than the violent offenders who had committed their crimes against adults. Nearly 25% of child victimizers were age 40 or older, but about 10% of the inmates with adult victims fell in that age range.

*While nearly 70% of those serving time for violent crimes against children were white, whites accounted for 40% of those imprisoned for violent crimes against adults.

*Inmates who victimized children were less likely than other inmates to have a prior criminal record--nearly a third of child-victimizers had never been arrested prior to the current offense, compared to less than 20% of those who victimized adults.

*Violent child-victimizers were substantially more likely than those with adult victims to have been physically or sexually abused when they were children, though the majority of violent offenders, regardless of victim age, did not have a history of such abuse.

*About 14% of child victimizers carried a weapon during the violent crime, compared to nearly half of those who victimized adults.

*About 10% of violent offenders with child victims received life or death sentences and the average prison term was 11 years, somewhat shorter average sentences than received by those with adult victims.

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Characteristics of the victims

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*3 in 10 child victimizers reported that they had committed their crimes against multiple victims; they were more likely than those who victimized adults to have had multiple victims.

*3 in 4 child victims of violence were female.

*For the vast majority of child-victimizers in State prison, the victim was someone they knew before the crime:

-- A third had committed their crime against their own child.

--About half had a relationship with the victim as a friend, acquaintance, or relative other than offspring.

--About 1 in 7 reported the victim to have been a stranger to them.

*Three-quarters of the violent victimizations of children took place in either the victim's home or the offender's home.

*4 in 10 child victims of violence suffered either a forcible rape or another injury.

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Child murder victims

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Based on incident-level homicide data collected by the FBI:

*Children under the age of 18 accounted for 11% of all murder victims in the United States in 1994. Nearly half of the 2,660 child victims were between ages 15 and 17. About 1 in 5 child victims were known to be killed by another child.

*Between 1976 and 1994 an estimated 37,000 children were murdered.

*Since the mid-1980's the increases in both the number and the rate of murder among persons age 15 to 17, and particularly among black youth in this age range, have outpaced changes in murder in all other age groups.

*The victim-offender relationship in child murder varies with the age of the victim: In most murders of a young child, a family member killed the child, while in most murders of an older child, age 15 to 17, the perpetrator was an acquaintance to the victim or was unknown to law enforcement authorities. About 1 in 5 child murders were committed by a family member.

*Half of all child murders in 1994 were committed with a handgun; about 7 in 10 victims age 15 to 17 were killed with a handgun.

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Violent offenders who committed crimes against children

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Nearly two-thirds of rapists and sexual assaulters in State prison committed their crime against a child.

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The 1991 Survey of Inmates in State Correctional Facilities revealed that just under half of all prisoners incarcerated in State prisons had been convicted of one or more violent crimes. These violent offenders were asked to describe various characteristics of their victims, including their best estimate of the victim's age at the time of the crime.

*For an estimated 18.6% of violent State prisoners, the most serious crime for which they were serving time had been committed against a child. In 1991 this translated into about 61,000 child victimizers held in confinement by State authorities from among the 328,000 inmates imprisoned for violent crimes.

*Among all State prison inmates sentenced for these crimes, there were--

--15 times as many murderers of adults as murderers of children

--4 1/2 times as many kidnapers with adult victims as kidnapers of children

--1 1/2 times as many forcible rapists with adult victims as with child victims

--nearly 27 times as many robbers with adult victims as robbers with child victims

--13 times as many offenders convicted of aggravated assault of an adult as those who had assaulted a child.

Rape and sexual assault

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*Among the victimizers of children, two-thirds had committed a rape or sexual assault. According to the self-reports of violent offenders, nearly 4 in 10 inmates incarcerated for forcible rape and more than 8 out of 10 incarcerated for a forcible sodomy had committed their crimes against a victim who was below age 18.

Murder

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*An estimated 7.2% of child victimizers in prison had murdered their victims.

Physical assault

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*Aggravated assault, child abuse, and simple assault accounted for about 9% of the inmates serving time for crimes against children. Overall, about 1 in 10 State prison inmates convicted of assault had a victim who was a child.

*A conviction offense for the specific offense of child abuse was infrequent among those imprisoned, accounting for about 1 in 500 inmates nationwide and less than 3% of those serving time for crimes against children.

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More than half of violent child victimizers had victims age 12 or younger

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More than half the inmates with child victims who had been convicted of violence, or about 10% of all violent offenders in State prisons, reported that their victims had been age 12 or younger. An estimated 33,000 offenders were serving time in 1991 for violent crimes committed against these young children--more than 25,000 of these, or 3 out of 4, committed a rape or sexual assault against a young child.

*Certain types of violent crimes were more commonly described by offenders with younger child victims, such as lewd acts with a child (fondling, molestation, or indecent practices) and child abuse, while those with older child victims were more likely to have committed forcible rape or robbery.

*Offense distributions for incarcerated offenders with child victims varied by the age of the victim:

Percent of violent offenders with victims--

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Offense Age 12 Ages 13-17 or less

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All violent offenses 100.0% 100.0%

Homicide 9.0% 10.3%

Murder 6.8 8.9

Negligent manslaughter 2.2 1.4

Kidnaping 2.0% 3.1%

Rape and sexual assault 75.4% 66.3%

Forcible rape 11.7 18.6

Forcible sodomy 3.1 2.6

Statutory rape 1.8 1.4

Lewd acts with children 21.6 11.8

Other sexual assault 37.2 31.9

Robbery 3.2% 9.6%

Assault 9.7% 10.4%

Aggravated assault 4.9 8.6

Child abuse 4.5 .7

Simple assault .2 1.2

Other violent .7% .3%

Number of inmates 33,287 26,998

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*Among inmates with child victims, more than half of those convicted of negligent manslaughter, forcible sodomy, statutory rape, lewd acts with children, other sexual assaults, or assault reported that their victims had been age 12 or younger.

*Those inmates who had attacked children age 12 or younger accounted for almost 90% of State prisoners serving time for child abuse, more than 50% of those convicted of forcible sodomy, 17% of forcible rape offenders, 8% of those incarcerated for kidnaping or abduction, 6% of those serving time for negligent manslaughter, 5% of those convicted of assault, and 3% of all murderers in State prisons.

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Criminal history of prisoners who victimized children

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About 6 in 10 offenders who victimized children had previously served sentences to probation or incarceration, and 1 in 4 had a prior history of violence

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Violent offenders who victimized children reported a less extensive criminal history than those who committed their offenses against victims age 18 or older. Nearly 3 out of 4 violent offenders with adult victims had prior conviction histories with sentences to probation or confinement; a third of adult victimizers had a record of convictions for violence. About 1 in 20 child victimizers, and about 1 in 250 adult victimizers, had prior convictions for offenses specifying a child as victim, such as statutory rape, lewd acts with children, and child abuse.

*Arrest histories reported by the inmates also vary with the age of the victim. About half of those who committed their current offense against a child had been arrested once before or had never been arrested prior to the current offense. By contrast, about a third of those with adult victims had less extensive arrest histories.

*While about 1 in 4 adult victimizers reported an arrest history involving 6 or more arrests prior to the current offense, about 1 in 6 child victimizers had such a lengthy arrest record.

*Offenders with child victims accounted for 18.6% of all violent offenders in prison. Child victimizers composed 28% of those violent offenders with no prior arrests and 22% of those with one prior arrest. By contrast, they accounted for about 12% of those with at least 10 prior arrests.

*Consistent with their less extensive arrest records, 4 out of 10 offenders with child victims were serving time after their first conviction for a crime. Just over a quarter of violent offenders with adult victims were first-timers.

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Special sentencing conditions

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Violent offenders with a child victim were more likely than violent offenders with an adult victim to have a special sentencing requirement to participate in a sex offender treatment program or in psychiatric or psychological counseling. The judge compelled just over 13% of child victimizers and about 2% of those who had committed a violent crime against an adult to receive treatment. An estimated 29% of those convicted of forcible sodomy of a child were required to be in a sex offender treatment program as a condition of their prison sentence.

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Characteristics of offenders who victimized children

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Inmates convicted of violence against children were more likely to have been white, to have been married, and to have been older than offenders who victimized adults

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The characteristics and backgrounds of inmates who committed their offenses against children differed markedly from those offenders who reported an adult victim. Though both groups of offenders were similar in being composed almost entirely of men, significant contrasts were found in the following:

Race

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*Among imprisoned violent offenders, about equal percentages were white (48.0%) or black (48.1%). By contrast, nearly 70% of child victimizers were white, while just over 25% of child victimizers were black.

*White inmates were nearly 3 times more likely than black inmates to have had a child victim. About 27% of all white inmates in State prisons for violent crimes committed their crimes against a child; less than 10% of black inmates serving time for violence had a child victim.

Hispanic origin

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*Little difference in the percentages of Hispanic prisoners existed between those serving time for violence against children--11.1% were Hispanic--and those convicted for violence against adults--14.5% were Hispanic. About 1 in every 7 Hispanic inmates imprisoned for a violent crime reported that their victim was under age 18.

Marital status

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*Marital status distinguished child victimizers from adult victimizers in the violent State inmate population. Child victimizers were substantially more likely than adult victimizers to have ever been married. Nearly two-thirds of those who reported having committed their crime against a child had married; nearly 6 in 10 adult victimizers had never married.

Age

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*The age of victims varied inversely with the age of offenders--inmates who were older at the time of the arrest for the violent crimes for which they had been imprisoned were more likely to have had child victims. At the time of the arrest for the violent crime which brought them to prison, child victimizers were an average 5 years older than those who victimized adults.

*While about 11% of child victimizers were age 50 or older when arrested, about 3% of those who victimized adults were at least 50. Among those who had been arrested at age 24 or younger, about 1 in 8 had victimized a child; among those age 55 or older, nearly 4 in 8 had a child victim.

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Offenders serving time for crimes against children were more likely to have grown up in homes with both parents present and to have suffered sexual abuse as a child

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*Overall, in terms of the type of family background they had as children, white and black violent offenders differed sharply--56% of the whites and 31% of the blacks grew up in homes with both parents present. The family background of white offenders, who made up three-fourths of those with a child victim, characterized a majority of child victimizers.

*Black victimizers of children had the same family background as black victimizers of adults. White victimizers of children were more likely than white victimizers of adults to have lived with both parents.

Child Adult victimizers victimizers

Primarily grew up with

White Black White Black

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Single parent 25% 55% 34% 53%

Both parents 63 30 53 31

Other 12 15 13 16

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*Adult and child victimizers did not substantially differ in the percentage who had ever been in an institution or foster home as a child, the percentage who said their parents or guardians had abused drugs or alcohol, and the percentage who reported that an immediate family member, parent, or sibling had ever served time for a crime.

*The majority of violent offenders, regardless of the age of the victim of their imprisonment offense, reported no prior experience as a child or an adult with having been physically or sexually abused.

*Inmates with child victims were more than twice as likely as inmates with adult victims to report having suffered prior instances of physical or sexual abuse. The differences were particularly striking with respect to sexual abuse. While an estimated 22% of child victimizers reported having been sexually abused, less than 6% of adult victimizers reported such backgrounds.

*Among all violent offenders with a history of having been sexually abused, nearly half had child victims. Among all violent offenders with a history of having been physically abused, nearly 30% had child victims. Among violent offenders with no history of physical or sexual abuse, 15.5% had child victims.

*About 95% of child victimizers and 86% of adult victimizers who reported having been abused physically or sexually said that such abuse had occurred while they were children. Among those who suffered physical or sexual abuse before age 18, 36% had child victims; among those who suffered abuse after entering adulthood, 13% had child victims.

*For about 9 out of 10 violent offenders experiencing prior physical or sexual abuse, the abuser was someone they had known. For both inmates with child victims and inmates with adult victims, about half reported that the abuse they suffered was by a parent or guardian. However, child victimizers (13.7%) were about twice as likely as adult victimizers (6.5%) to have suffered parental abuse. The percentage of child victimizers varied according to who had abused them:

Who abused the offenders

Percent of violent offenders  with child victims

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No abuse 15.5%

Stranger 24.5

Parent/guardian 32.4

Other relative 46.6

Acquaintances 43.1

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Violent offenders with child victims reported less involvement than adult victimizers with drugs or alcohol at the time of the crime

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About 6 in 10 inmates who committed their violent crime against an adult reported that they had either been drinking alcohol, using drugs, or doing both at the time they committed the offense. About 6 in 10 child victimizers reported that they were using neither drugs nor alcohol at the time of their crime.

*Among violent inmates reporting no use of drugs or alcohol at the time of the crime, 23.8% reported having victimized a child. Among those who reported alcohol use, 17.1% said they had committed their crime against a child. About 10% of drug users and 13% of those using both drugs and alcohol at the time of the crime reported that their victim had been a child. *Nearly 4 in 10 child victimizers reported that they had been drinking at the time of the crime. Among drinkers, about half reported that they had been drinking for 6 hours or more preceding the offense.

Number of hours drinking

Percent of drinking child victimizers

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1 hour or less 8.6%

2 hours 12.3

3 hours 10.7

4 hours 11.9

5 hours 7.9

6 or more hours 48.6

*About a third of adult victimizers and a fifth of child victimizers said they were using drugs at the time of the offense. The most commonly reported drugs used by all violent offenders, regardless of victim age, were marijuana and cocaine. About 1 in 71 child victimizers and 1 in 24 adult victimizers said that they had been using crack at the time of the offense.

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The median prison sentence imposed for child murder or kidnaping was longer than that for such offenses with an adult victim; for rape and sexual assault, the median was shorter with a child victim

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The median sentence for an offender convicted of violence against a child was 132 months or 11 years; when the victim was an adult, the median sentence was 180 months or 15 years. About 10% of violent State prisoners with child victims had sentences to life or death; nearly 19% of violent offenders with adult victims had life or death sentences. The reasons for such differences may stem from a wide variety of contingencies associated with both the offense and the offender.

For example--

the kind of violent offense

whether weapons were used

whether the victim suffered injury

whether the offender had a record.

The sentences reported by State prisoners in 1991 may not represent the sentences imposed in a given year, since those with the longest sentences will accumulate in prison.

*Among offenders who received a sentence to a term of years, when the victim was a child rather than an adult, the median sentence was longer for murder, kidnapping, and negligent manslaughter, shorter for rape and sexual assault, and the same for robbery and assault.

Child Adult

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Murder 360 months 300 months

Kidnapping 288 204

Negligent man- slaughter 180 156

Rape 180 240

Sexual assault 132 185

Robbery 144 144

Assault 120 120

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Sentences to life in prison or death

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*Offenses which are the most likely to carry a life or death sentence include murder, kidnapping, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. An estimated 83% of child victimizers with life/death sentences and 97% of adult victimizers with life/death sentences had been convicted of these crimes. Factors influencing sentencing

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* Other factors which help to account for longer sentences are also more commonly found among violent offenders with adult victims--more extensive offender criminal history, a greater likelihood that weapons, particularly firearms, were used, and a greater likelihood of victim injury.

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Characteristics of child victims of violent crimes

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Among inmates who committed their violent crime against a child, 3 in 10 reported having victimized more than one child

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State prison inmates who reported having committed their crime against a child were more likely to have had multiple victims. Offenders with multiple child-victims were most likely to be serving time for robbery, aggravated assault, negligent manslaughter, or murder.

*Those serving time for the murder or negligent manslaughter of a child were  nearly 3 times as likely as offenders convicted of the murder or negligent manslaughter of an adult to report having had multiple victims.

*Those serving time after conviction for forcible rape, sexual assault, robbery, and aggravated assault were all about twice as likely to report having had multiple victims if they described their victims as children.

*About 7% of violent offenders who victimized children reported having had 4 or more child victims. Based on the estimated number of victims reported by the State inmates in 1991, the more than 60,000 violent offenders who had child victims may have had as many as 95,000 victims.

*While about 7 in 10 offenders reported having victimized one child, less than half of the child victims are accounted for by single-victim incidents. From the ages described by offenders who had multiple victims, it is possible to estimate that 57% of all child victims of violent state prisoners were age 12 or younger.

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Three out of four child victims of violent offenders were female and nearly a third were the offender's own child or stepchild

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Inmates convicted of violent crimes against children described a wide variety of characteristics of their victims. Because most inmate descriptions of characteristics of victims in single victim incidents do not differ greatly from the characteristics of those in multiple victim incidents, this section focuses upon describing child victims utilizing the 70% of offenders who had one victim.

*Among violent offenders who victimized children, the vast majority (75%) reported the victim had been a female.

*These child victims, like the inmates who described them, were more likely to have been white than the adult victims of violent offenders. Overall, for nearly 9 out of 10 child victims, the offender was of the same race.

Offender race/ Percent of child

victim race victimizations

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White/white 65.9%

Black/black 21.5

All other combinations 12.7

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*Just over half the imprisoned violent offenders reported that their victim had been age 12 or younger.

*An estimated 86% of child victimizers reported that a prior relationship existed with the victim. About 14% of those serving time in State prisons for violent crimes against children had committed their crime against a stranger.

*More than 40% of offenders with child victims said the victim had been a relative or member of their immediate family. For 3 out of 4 of these offenders, and about a third of child victimizers overall, the victim was their own child or a stepchild.

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Less than 10% of inmates serving time for the rape or sexual assault of a child reported that the victim had been a stranger to them

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The victim-offender relationship is a major factor distinguishing adult victims of violence from child victims. Among offenders serving time for violence, adult victimizers are substantially less likely to have had a prior relationship with their victim than is true for those who committed their crimes against children.

*Among robbers and kidnapers who reported having victims younger than 18, more than half reported the victim to be a stranger. Crimes involving sexual assault and rape were the least likely crimes, as reported by the offenders, to involve strangers. About a third of child-murderers serving time in State prison reported that the victim had been their own child or another relative.

*A victim who had been an acquaintance of the inmate accounted for nearly 4 out of 10 child victims of violence. Crimes involving rape and sexual assault accounted for 81% of those serving time for crimes against acquaintances who were children. By type of victim-offender relationship, the offense distribution of child victimizers was.

Stranger -  Own Other

Acquaintance - child family

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Total 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0%

Murder 13.6 6.8 5.0 5.7

Rape 13.5 6.0 18.8 13.3

Sexual assault 38.6 64.7 61.5 73.7

Robbery 7.2 1.1 0.5 1.1

Assault 12.8 8.5 11.1 3.9

All other 14.3 2.9 3.1 2.3

*Compared to violent offenders with adult victims, child victimizers in prison were 6 times as likely to have had a victim who was a relative--43% versus 7%. Conversely, adult victimizers were nearly 4 times more likely than child victimizers to have had a victim who was a stranger to them--55% versus 15%.

*The offense backgrounds of child victimizers varied with the victim-offender relationship. More than two-thirds of offenders who were strangers to their victims reported having a prior conviction record and nearly a third of those who committed violent crimes against children who were strangers said that they had a prior history of violence.

Stranger Family

Acquaintance intimate

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Total , 100.0% 100.0% 100.0%

First-timer 32.7 47.4 37.5

Recidivist 67.3 52.6 62.5

No prior violence 35.7 35.9 36.0

Prior violence 31.6 16.8 26.6

Child victim* 6.0 3.1 5.5

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*Prisoners reported prior convictions for lewd acts with children, child abuse, or statutory rape.

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Characteristics of violent crimes with child victims

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Child victimizers in prison were much more likely than violent offenders against adults to have committed the crime in their own home or the victim's home

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The environment in which victims and offenders come together varies widely with the age of the victim. More than three-quarters of the violent victimizations of children, as reported by State prisoners, took place in either the victim's home (41%) or the offender's home (35%. By contrast, about 40% of violent crimes against adults were reported to have taken place in either of these two locations.

*Crimes involving the sexual assault of a child were about equally likely to have taken place in the victim's home or in the offender's home.

*Half of the offenders serving time for negligent manslaughter of a child reported that the offense took place in a public place such as a street or park. More than half of the child abuse offenders said that the offense took place in their own home.

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More than 8 in 10 violent crimes against children that offenders reported took place in their own homes were forcible rapes or sexual assaults. The offense distribution of crimes against children, by the location in which the crime took place, was as follows:

Home

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Victim's Offender's Public place

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Total 100.0% 100.0% 100.0%

Murder 9.2 3.6 15.5

Negligent manslaughter .7 1.1 8.0

Rape 15.7 15.6 12.6

Sexual assault 58.7 68.4 35.1

Robbery 4 .9 1.6 6.6

Assault 8.0 8.4 18.8

Other crimes 2.8 1.3 3.4

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One in seven violent offenders whose victim was a child reported using a weapon, most often a firearm, during the crime

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Most violent inmates, whether their victims were adults or children, reported that they were not carrying a weapon during the crime. However, adult victims of imprisoned violent offenders were substantially more likely to have faced an offender armed with a weapon such as a handgun or knife.

*About a third of those who victimized children and carried a weapon reported that the weapon had been a knife; about a quarter of armed offenders who attacked an adult used a knife.

*Nearly 9% of child victimizers said they had carried a firearm during the crime and, for most, the firearm was a handgun--about 1 in 16 violent offenders with a child victim carried a handgun during the crime. By comparison, a third of those who victimized adults carried a firearm during the crime, about a fourth of adult victimizers reported carrying a handgun.

*For 72% of armed child victimizers and 78% of armed adult victimizers the firearm was a handgun.

*About half of both adult and child victimizers carrying a firearm reported that they discharged the firearm during the crime.

*While adult murderers were about twice as likely as child murderers to have carried a firearm during the crime, offenders convicted of kidnapping or aggravated assault were equally likely to report possession of a firearm during the crime, regardless of the victim's age.

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More than 40% of child victims of incarcerated violent offenders suffered forcible rape, injury, or death as a result of the crime

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*An estimated 2 in 3 adult victims of violent offenders were raped or otherwise injured, compared to 2 in 5 child victims.

*About 1 in 7 child victimizers reported that the victim died as a consequence of the violent crime; violent offenders with adult victims were substantially more likely to report the death of a victim.

*For every offense, adult victims were more likely than child victims to have been injured. The largest disparity was for sexual assault where child victims were about half as likely as adult victims to have suffered some type of injury (19% versus 40%).

*About 14% of offenders serving time after conviction for a sexual assault involving a child (excluding forcible and statutory rape), reported that the victim was raped. Nearly two-thirds (63.4%) of offenders imprisoned for aggravated assault, where the victim had been a child, reported that the child had been injured: 18.8% of the child victims had been shot, 8.8% stabbed, 8.6% had been raped, 6.6% had broken bones or teeth or had been knocked unconscious, and 7.2% had bruises. The remainder suffered other unspecified injuries.

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Child murder: Victims and offender

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The number of child murders has been growing since the mid-1980's, with the increases concentrated in the age group 15 to 17

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Over the nearly two decades from 1976 to 1994, the number of children murdered reached its lowest point in 1984, when 1,463 young people under the age of 18 became victims, and peaked in 1993, when the number of child murders reached 2,841. Data from the mid-1980's through the first half of the 1990's illustrate a surge in child murder--a 94% increase from the low to the peak. Between 1993 and 1994 the number of child murder victims dropped 6.4%, the first decrease in a decade but a larger number of deaths than in any year preceding 1993. The increases observed over the last 10 years in the number of child murders are largely found among youth age 15 to 17 and are present for both whiteand black youth. The number of white murder victims age 15 to 17 climbed from a low of 287 in 1984 to 579 in 1993, more than doubling in the 9-year span. Between 1984 and 1993 the number of black murder victims age 15 to 17 increased from 245 nationwide to 855, a 249% increase over the 9 years.

*The FBI's Supplementary Homicide Reports (SHR), which gather data on each murder in the Nation, can be used to estimate that there were 405,089 victims of murder between 1976 and 1994. Of these, 36,951, or 9.1%, were children under age 18. Between 1976 and 1994 a total of 18,868 white children and 16,960 black children were victims of murder.

*Half of the black children murdered were age 15 to 17, compared to about 40% of the white children:

Child victims

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Age of murder victim White Black

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Less than 1 year 14.2% 10.7%

1-4 years 20.5 18.8

5-14 years 24.1 19.0

15-17 years 41.2 51.5

Total number 18,868 16,960

*From 1976 to 1994 the percentages of white and black victims varied by age, with black youth accounting for a larger share of victims age 15 to 17 than white youth:

Percent*

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Age of murder victim Number White Black

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All ages 36,951 51.1% 45.9%

Less than 1 year 4,670 57.5 38.9

1-4 years 7,283 53.1 43.8

5-14 years 8,045 56.4 40.1

15-17 years 16,954 45.9 51.4

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*Percentages of children of other or unknown race, included in the number, are not shown separately.

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*In 1984 black victims accounted for 45% of the murder victims age 15 to 17 (546 victims of all races); by 1994 there were 1,413 murders of persons age 15 to 17, and black youth accounted for 58% of the total. By comparison, in 1984 black youth accounted for 14.8% of the nearly 11 million children age 15 to 17 in the resident population, and in 1994 they accounted for 15.6% of the 10.7 million persons in this age group in the resident population. In 1984 among U.S. residents age 15 to 17, there were 5 murders for every 100,000 residents in this age range; the rate was 3.2 per 100,000 white youth and 12.4 per 100,000 black youth. By 1994 the per capita murder rate for 15-to-17 year olds more than doubled to 13.2 per 100,000. The rate for white youth in 1994 was 6.3 per 100,000, about twice what it had been in 1984, and the rate for black youth was 49.3, quadruple the rate a decade earlier.

*The victim-offender relationship in murders of children varies substantially depending upon the victim's age. In 1994 over 70% of the murders of infants were carried out by a family member. By contrast, among victims age 15 to 17, family members accounted for 3% of the murders.

*Data for the period from 1976 to 1994 indicate that in family murder of a child about 10% of victims were age 15 to 17, while in murders by strangers about 67% of victims were in this age category.

*Acquaintances were the largest source of child murderers, accounting for 35% of all murders of children after 1976: only in 1982 and 1983 did the number of child murders by a family member exceed the number of murders by an acquaintance.

*Murders committed by a family member accounted for a declining share of child murders after the mid-1980's.

*In 1994, among murders in which the age of the offender was known, almost half the murderers of children were between ages 20 and 39.

*After 1976 the percentage of child murders committed by other children remained relatively stable; however, the percentage of child murders in which the offender was unknown grew from about 20% of murders in 1976 to about the same level in 1994 as in 1979 and 1980--just under 30%.

*The types of weapons used in child murders varies with the age of the victim. While almost two-thirds of infant murder victims were beaten to death by an offender using hands, feet, or a blunt object, about 3% of those age 15 to 17 were killed in this fashion. Over three-quarters of the oldest child murder victims were killed by a firearm. By 1994 handguns accounted for nearly 48% of all murders of children, a sharp increase after the mid-1980's when less than 30% of child murders were by a handgun.

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Younger offenders are increasingly involved in the murders of children who are strangers to them, of children age 15-17, and of children killed with a handgun

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Between 1976 and 1994, the average age of those who murdered children who were strangers to them declined from a high of 27 years in 1977 to 21 years in 1994. The average age of murderers of children age 15 to 17 declined from just over age 24 to age 20 during the same period. The average ages of murderers of children who were family members or acquaintances remained relatively stable over the period:

Relationship to Average age of

child victim offenders, 1976-94

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Family members 26-27

Acquaintances 21-23

The average ages of murderers of children younger than 15 were substantially unchanged from 1976 to 1994:

Age group Average age of offenders, of

child victim 1976-94

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Younger than 23-25

1-4 24-26

5-14 25-27

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In 1994 States varied substantially in the number of child murders per capita

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Three States, North Dakota (1 adult murder victim), Vermont (6 adult murder  victims), and Wyoming (16 adult murder victims) reported no murders of children during 1994. Based on those jurisdictions reporting in 1994 and excluding the wholly urban District of Columbia, the highest per capita rates of child murder occurred in Illinois (6.5 murders per 100,000 children under age 18), California (5.5 murders per 100,000), and Louisiana (5.3 per 100,000). These States accounted for 19% of all children living in the reporting States in 1994 but nearly 30% of the child murder victims that year.

*Between 1976 and 1994 an estimated 405,089 murders occurred in the United States. Of these, an estimated 36,951 had been murders of children below age 18. Over the 19 years for which the FBI collected Supplementary Homicide Reports, about 92% of all murders resulted in the submission of a report--34,005 reports for child victims and 338,885 reports for victims who were adults or of unknown age.

*The national estimate that 36,951 children were murdered over the period from 1976 to 1994 translates into an average of about 1,945 child murder victims per year or about 5 per day in the United States. The number of murders in 1994 translates into an average of about 7 victims per day.

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