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National Crime Victimization Survey: Questions and Answers About the Redesign

NCJ Number
Date Published
October 1994
7 pages
Publication Type
Program/Project Description
After describing the major redesign changes in the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), this paper poses and answers questions about the redesign.
The proposed improvements in the NCVS are intended to improve the reporting of the number and nature of victimizations, particularly for the crimes of simple assault, rape, and other sexual assault. At the same time, annual data collected with the redesigned questionnaire show that year-to-year trends continue relatively unchanged, with little change in violent crime and a slight decline in property crime. A new screening questionnaire, which is designed to determine whether the respondent has been the victim of any crime within the scope of the survey, uses extensive, detailed cues to help respondents recall and report incidents. These new questions and cues jog respondents' memories and let them know that the survey is interested in a broad spectrum of incidents, not just those involving weapons, severe violence, or strangers. Because of these changes, substantial increases occur in the extent to which victims tell the interviewers about simple assault and sexual crimes. Multiple questions and cues on crimes committed by family members, intimates, and acquaintances have been added, and the new NCVS broadens the scope of covered sexual incidents beyond the categories of rape and attempted rape. Some questions posed and answered pertain to whom the NCVS interviews, how survey participants are selected, how people are persuaded to participate, how the questionnaire works, when an incident is counted as a crime, and reasons for the change. 6 references
Date Created: December 21, 2009