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Has Rape Reporting Increased Over Time?

NCJ Number
NIJ Journal Issue: 254 Dated: July 2006 Pages: 28-30
Date Published
July 2006
3 pages
Publication Series
This article presents results from a study that examined rape reporting; specifically changes in the types of incidents occurring or being reported.
Researcher Eric Baumer set out to conduct a comprehensive study to find out how rape reporting has changed over time, who does the reporting, and the effect of the victim-offender relationship on the chance a rape will be reported. Utilizing the National Crime Survey and the National Crime Victimization Survey, he found that in the 1970s and 1980s, most of the increase in reporting was not from victims, but from third parties. The biggest increase in reporting was in cases where women had been attacked by someone they knew. In the 1990s, reporting of rapes committed by known assailants and strangers increased both among third parties and victims, but with sexual assault being equally likely to be reported. Baumer, believes that the increases he found could be used to assess the reporting indirectly. He suggests the increases he found were consistent with changes in law and culture. However, even though legal, social, and political reforms have improved the chances that a rape or attempted rape will be reported, most victims still do not report. This research was conducted because past studies showed increases in reporting, did not consider changes in the types of incidents occurring or being reported. It was thought that reporting trends without the details, such as crime completion, presence of a weapon, or victim-offender relationship could be misleading.

Date Published: July 1, 2006