BJS: Bureau of Justice Statistics

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Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS)
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ADVANCE FOR RELEASE AT 10:00 A.M. EST Bureau of Justice Statistics
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 18, 2014                                Contact: Kara McCarthy (202) 307-1241
HTTP://WWW.BJS.GOV/ After hours: (202) 598-9320


WASHINGTON – Persons in poor households at or below the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) (39.8 per 1,000) had more than double the rate of violent victimization as persons in high-income households (16.9 per 1,000) for the period 2008–12, the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) announced today. Serious violence (rape or sexual assault, robbery and aggravated assault) accounted for a greater percentage of violence among persons in poor households (38 percent) than in high-income households (27 percent).

This report uses data from the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) to describe the nature of nonfatal violence against persons age 12 or older living in households defined by their percentage above, at or below the FPL, as measured by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In 2012, the FPL for a household of four in the 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia was $23,050.

At or below the FPL or poor refers to persons in households at 0 percent to 100 percent of the FPL. Low-, mid- and high-income households are defined by their percentage above the FPL. Low income refers to households at 101 to 200 percent of the FPL; mid-income refers to households at 201 to 400 percent of the FPL; and high income refers to households at 401 percent or higher than the FPL.

Persons in poor households had higher rates of stranger (12.3 per 1,000) and nonstranger (24.2 per 1,000) violence compared to persons at all other poverty levels. The rate of intimate partner violence for persons in poor households (8.1 per 1,000) was almost double the rate for low-income persons (4.3 per 1,000) and almost four times the rate for high-income persons (2.1 per 1,000).

The overall pattern of persons in poor households having the highest rates of violent victimization was consistent for poor non-Hispanic white households (46.4 per 1,000) and non-Hispanic black households (43.4 per 1,000). However, the rate of violent victimization for Hispanics did not vary across poverty levels. Poor whites (56.4 per 1,000) and poor blacks (51.3 per 1,000) in urban households had higher rates of violence than persons in all other types of households.

Violence against persons in poor (51 percent) and low-income (50 percent) households was more likely to be reported to police than violence against persons in mid- (43 percent) and high- (45 percent) income households. This pattern of lower reporting of violence among mid- and high-income households held true for whites but not for blacks or Hispanics.

Other findings for the period 2008–12 include—

  • An estimated 14 percent of persons lived in poor households at or below the FPL, and over a third (36 percent) of persons were in high-income households.
  • Poor Hispanics (25.3 per 1,000) had lower rates of violence compared to poor whites (46.4 per 1,000) and poor blacks (43.4 per 1,000).
  • Persons in poor households had a higher rate of violence involving a firearm (3.5 per 1,000) compared to other persons (from 0.8 to 2.5 per 1,000).
  • Poor persons living in urban areas (43.9 per 1,000) had violent victimization rates similar to poor persons living in rural areas (38.8 per 1,000).

The report, Household Poverty and Nonfatal Violent Victimization, 2008–2012 (NCJ 248384), was written by Erika Harrell and Lynn Langton of BJS and Marcus Berzofsky, Lance Couzens and Hope Smiley-McDonald of RTI International. The report, related documents and additional information about the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ statistical publications and programs can be found on the BJS website at

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The Office of Justice Programs (OJP), headed by Assistant Attorney General Karol V. Mason, provides federal leadership in developing the nation’s capacity to prevent and control crime, administer justice, and assist victims. OJP has six components: the Bureau of Justice Assistance; the Bureau of Justice Statistics; the National Institute of Justice; the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention; the Office for Victims of Crime; and the Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking. More information about OJP can be found at

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