Monday, December 19, 2011

If You Think Your Old UCR Rape Numbers Were Bad, Just Wait

Last week the Centers For Disease Control (CDC) released a report detailing the results of a survey they did looking into intimate partner violence. One part of the survey dealt with the prevalence of rape. The numbers are alarming with nearly 1 in 5 women reporting that they had been the victims of rape at some point.

In what's probably going to lead to even more shocking statistics, the Director of the FBI just approved changing the archaic, 1930's era Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) definition of rape. The Baltimore Sun had a piece on this change that included this:

Since the 1920s, rape has been defined as forcible penile penetration of a female. The definition does not include oral and anal penetration, penetration when a victim was unconscious or male victims.

The new definition includes "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."

The changes in this definition are long overdue. In the sleepy little burg where I work we had a serial rapist who had attacked several female victims. Because of the way that some of the attacks were committed, not all of his attacks were counted as part of our annual UCR Rape numbers that year. This is a travesty.

While the changes are long overdue, I don't know if the public is really ready for the huge uptick in rape numbers in their community. Just like the CDC numbers were pretty shocking, I think the new UCR numbers will be as well. Hopefully, this will lead to providing adequate resources to combat the problem of sexual assault.

Is your agency ready to explain the difference in your rape statistics once the new UCR definition takes effect?

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