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Domestic Violence in the Context of Overall Crime Reports

Statistics can be interpreted a number of ways, with persons on opposite sides of an argument or position often using the same numbers to support their view.

The numbers released this past Monday by the FBI concerning the nation's crime rate go far toward proving that point, especially where domestic violence is concerned.

The agency's annual report -- entitled Annual Uniform Crime Report -- has a decidedly upbeat slant, with its conclusion being that violent crime is dropping in all pockets of the country, especially in the South

The measurement stick for the report is cities of more than 100,000 residents. Nationally, violent crime in urban areas of this size fell by 5.5 percent and 7.5 percent in the South last year as compared to 2009. In South Florida, some areas beat those numbers by a wide margin: Coral Springs, for example, had a 23 percent drop, and both Fort Lauderdale and Pembroke Pines experienced eight percent reductions.

Miami, however, lagged the nation considerably. Although it, too, showed a decrease in violent crime, the drop was only two percent. And Hialeah and Miramar actually bucked the trend, with violent crime rates being up in both those locales by three percent.

And crime designations can obscure those numbers. Overall crime, for example, can fall in a city, notwithstanding that the number of murders -- or rape or aggravated assault -- can be on the rise. Tellingly, many violent crimes are acts of domestic violence, even if they are not explicitly called that, which can skew numbers and actually disguise the fact that, while overall crime numbers might be down, acts of domestic abuse can be increasing.

The actual level of domestic violence that occurs in the U.S. and throughout South Florida might never be known, although it is safe to say that it exceeds reported numbers. As noted by the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence (FCADV"), many persons who are abused fail to report a violent incident out of shame or fear. Some, of course, die and can never tell their story.

For those reasons, the FCADV states that, "We may never know the true extent of abuse in our country and in our state."

That remains true regardless of annual crime reports.

Related Resource: Miami Herald, "Florida joins U.S. trend in crime rates drop" May 23, 2011

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