Carpe Diem

Before declaring that there’s a ‘rape epidemic’ in the US, has anybody bothered to check the actual data? Apparently not

raperateUpdate 1: The chart and post have been updated to reflect the FBI’s preliminary semiannual data for January-June 2013, which shows a 10.6% decline in forcible rapes in 2013.

Update 2: My former AEI colleague Ken Green sent an email asking about the definition of “forcible rape” and whether it includes both female and male rape. “Forcible rape,” as historically defined in the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program (and used for the chart above), is the “carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will,” and would therefore exclude male rape. Starting in 2013 (but not reflected in the chart),there is a new definition of rape – the term “forcible” was removed, and the definition changed to “penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.” I assume this expanded definition will include male rape.

We keep hearing in the news about a general “rape epidemic” in America and more specifically about a “campus rape epidemic.” A White House task force headed by Vice-President Biden tells us that “one in five female college students has been assaulted, but that just 12 percent of such attacks are reported.” I’ve demonstrated statistically using actual crime reports from various universities that if the 12 percent under-reporting White House claim is true, then the 1-in-5 claim can’t possibly be true – it’s more like 1-in-20 or 1-in-30. So there’s a little bit of statistical hijinx, misreporting, and hyperbole going on at the White House on this issue.

But before generating hysteria by reporting that there’s a rape “epidemic” (defined generally as “a rapid spread, growth, or development”), has anybody at the White House or elsewhere bothered to actually check the crime data on rapes in the US? Because if they had, they would find that there’s been a steady decline, not an increase, in the frequency of rapes in America for the last 20 years.

The chart above is based on the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports available here and here, and shows the frequency, or rate of rapes per 100,000 inhabitants, from 1972 to 2012 based on annual data and 2013 based on preliminary semiannual data. From 1972 to 1992, the rate of rapes in the US almost doubled from 22.5 rapes per 100,000 inhabitants in 1972 to a peak of 42.8 in 1992. Then for the next 21 years, the rate declined in almost every year, and fell to a 41-year low of 23.6 rapes per 100,000 inhabitants in 2013 (based on January-June data), the lowest rate since 1972. Also note that the current rate of 23.6 rapes per 100,000 inhabitants means that there would be approximately 23.6 rapes per 50,000 women, or 1 in about 2,100.

Bottom Line: Rape is a horrific crime and even one is too many, but victims of crimes are much better served by the truth and accurate reporting about the situation than by exaggerated and false claims of a “rape epidemic.” FBI crime statistics reveal that far from an “epidemic” of an increasing frequency in rape in America, we’ve fortunately experienced exactly the opposite – the frequency of rape has been declining for more than two decades, and fell to a 41-year low in 2013.

34 thoughts on “Before declaring that there’s a ‘rape epidemic’ in the US, has anybody bothered to check the actual data? Apparently not

  1. It is sad…no, it is pathetic that the federal government panders to the hysteria of certain groups in order to massage the votes of those groups. Unfortunately, caught in the cross-hairs are truly innocent young students like my son, Joshua Strange, who are expelled from college without any evidence other than an accuser’s words, no rights to active legal representation in the campus tribunal system, no investigation, and no trained officials for the adjudication process. However, we are fighting back. Families Advocating for Campus Equality is organizing to stop the violations of due process rights on college campuses. Join us, if you will, by visiting our website at the following address: facecampusequality.nationbuilder.com.

  2. No no no no no no NO!

    Don’t you get it?? Victims is SCARED to REPORT rape, so FBI stats are MEAN-ING-LESS!

    Didn’t y’all get the memo?

      • I personally think you are a bit lost on the subject. Not everything feminist call rape is really rape – and there are plenty of false allegations of rape in college – even when there wasn’t even a sexual encounter. Young men’s lives get ruined because of these fake rapes and new age rapes. They are far different from the Forcible rapes that really are detrimental to women.

    • Didn’t you know, those statistics are off by at least 50,000%. At least 4/3 women are raped with eyes within the first 10 minutes of being in college!/s

  3. “.. has anybody at the White House or elsewhere bothered to actually check the crime data on rapes in the US?”

    The data checked by the WH is from anonymous universities and surveys. What could be more concrete than that?

  4. Before declaring that there’s a ‘rape epidemic’ in the US, has anybody bothered to check the actual data? Apparently not“…

    There are facts and then there are agendas…

    Facts normally doesn’t get you money from the politicians but agendas do…

    Consider the present the Kenyan Kommie Klown and krewe of kool-aid drinking, parasitical thieves are pushing again – man made global warming but they’re calling it something else now…

    The Center for Naval Analyses has released a report warning that climate change is a threat that, “much like terrorism or cyber-attacks,” is not limited by political boundaries and requires similar attention. The study also attributes major political events to climate change, such as the Arab Spring and the Syrian Civil War

    Oh yeah! Roll up a couple smaller boogey men together and now there’s a new & improved Frankenstein to fight and the regime needs YOUR money to accomplish that mission…

    Looking at all the other scams these DC dolts have pushed using the same methods: public education, school swill a meal, gun control, etc, etc, etc…

  5. Since the chart describes forcible rape what does the data shows for non-forcible rape? I am assuming this latter category would be the result of substances like alcohol and rohypnol.

    • Stewart

      Those cases are included in the chart above. Rape is, by definition, forcible. The term “forcible rape” is sort of redundant. A person who is unable to give consent due to impaired consciousness may be considered a victim of forcible rape.

      • Not all rapes are forcible. Yes, it happens. Rape is not about violence. It’s about power. Rape can be entirely non-violent, but it always involoves an exercise of unequal power. Always.

        • Gail

          I agree. I use the word forcible to mean “against the will” of the victim, which would include all cases where voluntary consent isn’t given. I would consider a threat of violence, such as a gun to the head, to be forcible.

          • “I agree” meaning Ron H. agrees.

            Please don’t ask me to explain the other alias.

      • Perhaps the term “forcible rape” is meant to distinguish it from “statutory rape”, in which force may not have been used, but the victim is considered incapable of consenting.

  6. The FBI changed their definition from “Forceable Rape” to “Nonconsensual Rape” in 2012. The Feminist Majority Foundation claims that it changed as a result of Women’s Rights groups advocating for the new definition.
    Although it was 2012, this new definition needs time to be adopted and implemented within local law enforcement agencies and eventually reflected in their reporting policies. Other than nonconsensual being very subjective in its definition, it is also more than likely that the feminists will draw their future statistics from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report. The reason that’s a problem is that law enforcement is being told to submit ANY accusation of rape into the report, regardless if a preliminary investigation does not result in a charge being made against the accused – to include if they discover it is a false allegation. Just plain sick! The feminists claim it is so a repeat offender can be discovered through unassociated accusers – regardless if the perpetrator consistently “gets away with it”. That should be an entirely different database…provided you still ignore the rights of the accused and put them on a “potential rapist” list upon an allegation. You better believe this is Salem all over again.

    • Awakening

      “Non-consensual rape” seems as redundant as “forcible rape”. The definition of the word “rape” includes the concepts of non-consent and forcible.

      Perhaps the change is intended to include cases where lack of consciousness prevents positive consent.

  7. 1992 is the fulcrum year? Bill Clinton’s assumption of a federal office and the increased scrutiny that comes with that must be merely a highly correlated coincidence.

  8. But you forget that the left does not define rape as most people with common sense would. As the left defines it, women are getting raped constantly.

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