- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 12, 2005

Violence among family members fell by more than 50 percent between 1993 and 2002, according to a Justice Department report released yesterday, from an estimated 5.4 victims to 2.1 victims per 1,000 U.S. residents 12 and older.

The report, written by the department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), said the figures reflect a general decline in crimes against people during the same period — with family violence accounting for 11 percent of all reported and unreported incidents of violence between 1998 and 2002.

According to the report, of the offenses against family members, 49 percent included a crime against a spouse, 11 percent involved a parent attacking a child, and 41 percent included an offense against another family member. A total of 73 percent of family violence victims were women or girls and 76 percent of those who committed family violence were men or boys.

Simple assault was the most frequent type of family violence, the report said, adding that drugs or alcohol were involved in 39 percent of family violence victimizations. In 20 percent of the family violence incidents, the report said, the offender had a weapon.

About four in 10 family violence victimizations did not come to police attention between 1998 and 2002, according to the report, which also said that 34 percent of the victims of unreported family violence said they did not tell law-enforcement officials about the matter because it was “private or personal.” Another 12 percent said they did not report it to protect the offender.

One-half of the convicted family violence offenders in prison in 1997 were serving a sentence for committing a sex crime against a family member, according to the report. Forty-five percent of the convicted family violence offenders in local jails in 2002 had been subject to a restraining order at some point in their lives.

According to the report, about one in five of those persons murdered in 2002 was killed by a family member. In all homicides that year, almost 9 percent involved the killing of a spouse, 6 percent the murder of a son or daughter and 7 percent the killing of another family member.

A total of 58 percent of the family murder victims were female and, the report said, 26 percent were younger than 18. Among the murdered children younger than 13, a total of 66 percent were killed by a family member.

The report also said that 83 percent of those who killed a spouse were men, as were 75 percent of those who killed a boyfriend or girlfriend and that the average age of a son or daughter killed by a parent was 7, and 80 percent were younger than 13.

The report, “Family Violence Statistics,” was written by BJS statisticians Matthew R. Durose, Caroline Wolf Harlow, Patrick A. Langan, Mark Motivans, Ramona R. Rantala and Erica L. Schmitt. It can be accessed at www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/abstract/fvs.htm.

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