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Sex Offenses and Offenders: Analysis of Data on Rape and Sexual Assault

NCJ Number
163392
Author(s)
L A Greenfeld
Date Published
February 1997
Annotation
This report draws on more than 24 statistical datasets maintained by the Bureau of Justice Statistics and the Uniform Crime Reporting Program to provide a comprehensive overview of current knowledge about the incidence and prevalence of violent victimization by sexual assault, the response of the justice system to such crimes, and the characteristics of the offenders who commit these crimes.
Abstract
The findings show that in a high percentage of cases the victims are children. In self-reported victimization surveys of the public aged 12 and older, teenagers report the highest per capita rates of exposure to rape and sexual assault. Data from police-recorded incidents of rape in three States showed that 44 percent of rape victims were under the age of 18. The self- reports of convicted rape and sexual assault offenders serving time in State prisons indicate that two-thirds of such offenders had victims under the age of 18, and 58 percent of those reported that their victims were aged 12 or younger. Although the vast majority of violent sex offending involved males assaulting female victims, females accounted for a small percentage of known offenders, and males accounted for a small percentage of victims. A very small percentage of sexual assaults involved victims and offenders of the same sex. Victim and offender were likely to have had a prior relationship as family members, intimates, or acquaintances. Victims of rape and sexual assault reported that in nearly three out of four incidents, the offender was not a stranger. Based on police-recorded incident data, in 90 percent of the rapes of children younger than 12, the child knew the offender; two-thirds of the victims 18 to 29 years old had a prior relationship with the rapist. Data show that sex offenders tended to be older than other violent offenders, that is, generally in their early 30's; and they were more likely to be white than other violent offenders. 32 figures, 5 tables, and 12 references