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ADVANCE FOR RELEASE AT 9:00 A.M. EDT Bureau of Justice Statistics
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 1, 2009 Contact: Kara McCarthy 202-307-1241 After hours: 202-598-0556


Young and middle-age persons with disabilities experienced higher rates of violence than persons of similar ages without disabilities

     WASHINGTON – The first national study on crime against persons with disabilities was released today by the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), Office of Justice Programs. In 2007 persons age 12 or older with disabilities experienced about 716,000 nonfatal violent crimes, including rape or sexual assault (47,000), robbery (79,000), aggravated assaults (114,000) and simple assaults (476,000). They also experienced about 2.3 million property crimes during the year.  

     Based on interviews for the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), the study identified six types of disabilities among persons who experienced criminal victimization: sensory, physical, cognitive functioning, self-care, go-outside-the-home and employment. A disability was defined as a long-standing (six months or more) sensory, physical, mental or emotional condition that makes it difficult for a person to perform daily living activities.

     To compare victimization of persons with and without disabilities, the study generated age-adjusted rates for persons with disabilities, who typically are older than persons without disabilities. The age-adjusted rate of nonfatal violent crimes against persons with disabilities was 1.5 times higher than the rate for those without disabilities (32 per 1,000 persons age 12 or older compared to 21 per 1,000).

     Examining specific age groups, the risk of violence was higher for young and middle-age persons with a disability than those of similar age groups without disabilities. Persons age 12 to 19 and those age 35 to 49 with a disability experienced violence at nearly twice the rate as persons of the same age groups without a disability. The rate of violence did not differ by disability status for persons age 50 or older.  Persons age 65 or older, with or without a disability, had the lowest rates of violent crime.  

     The age-adjusted rate of violent crime against females with a disability (35 per 1,000 persons age 12 or older) was almost twice the rate for females without a disability (19 per 1,000 persons age 12 or older). Males with a disability also experienced higher age-adjusted rates of violence than males without a disability (30 per 1,000 compared to 24 per 1,000).

     Sixteen percent of violent crimes against females with a disability were committed by an intimate partner, defined as a current or former spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend. Five percent of violence against males with a disability was committed by an intimate partner. Among persons without disabilities, intimate partners were responsible for 27 percent of nonfatal violence against females and 3 percent of nonfatal violence against males.

     More than half of violent crimes against people with disabilities were against those with more than one type of disability. Persons with cognitive disabilities had a rate of nonfatal violent crime higher than the rates for persons with other types of disabilities. 

     Nearly one in five violent crime victims with a disability believed that they became a victim because of their disability. Victims with disabilities perceived offenders to be under the influence of either alcohol or drugs in about a third of all violent crimes against them. Violent crime victims with or without a disability were equally as likely to face an armed offender, report the crime to the police or suffer an injury during the crime.

     The 2.3 million property crimes against households with a disabled person included 527,000 household burglaries, 107,000 motor vehicle thefts and 1.7 million thefts; however, these estimates are believed to be an undercount as information about a disability was obtained only for if the person interviewed reported a disability.

     Data in this report represent the first estimates of victimization of people with disabilities produced in response to the Crime Victims with Disabilities Awareness Act. Disability was measured in the NCVS using procedures developed for the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.  

     The report, Crime Against People with Disabilities, 2007 (NCJ 227814), was written by BJS statisticians Michael Rand and Erika Harrell. Following publication, the report can be found at

     For additional information about the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ statistical reports and programs, please visit the BJS Web site at

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     The Office of Justice Programs (OJP), headed by Acting Assistant Attorney General Mary Lou Leary, provides federal leadership in developing the nation's capacity to prevent and control crime, administer justice, and assist victims. OJP has five component bureaus: the Bureau of Justice Assistance; the Bureau of Justice Statistics; the National Institute of Justice; the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention; and the Office for Victims of Crime. In addition, OJP has two program offices: the Community Capacity Development Office, which incorporates the Weed and Seed strategy, and the Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking (SMART). More information can be found at



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