The Reality of Violent Crime Trends in the U.S.


By Jeannette Carrington 

Despite popular belief, recent data suggests that violent crime in the United States is not on the rise. This misconception is often fueled by the pervasive presence of social media and around-the-clock news coverage, which can amplify incidents of crime and create a distorted view of reality. 

According to the latest FBI crime statistics, the national violent crime rate decreased by an estimated 1.7% in 2022 compared to the previous year. This includes a 6.1% reduction in murder and non-negligent manslaughter and a 5.4% decrease in the revised rape category. These figures challenge the narrative that violent crime is spiraling out of control. 

“I think the answer is somewhat complex and is probably the result of a few trends,” said sociology instructor, Jen Cline. “If we look at the data, we know that violent crime has dropped drastically since the 1990’s. I think we have become hesitant about data as a culture. People tend to be distrustful of data and tend to trust some of the talking points they hear from the people they surround themselves with or on social media.” 

The impact of social media and 24-hour news on public perception cannot be understated. Studies have shown that overreporting of crime by law enforcement agencies on social media, particularly involving Black suspects, can skew public perception and reinforce harmful stereotypes. Moreover, the constant bombardment of crime stories on news channels can lead to a heightened sense of fear and a belief that crime is more prevalent than it seems to be. 

“When asking people where they get their news, they tend to say, “social media,” which we know isn’t a news source in and of itself, said Cline. “Anecdotally, I hear students say that they struggle knowing what information to trust and what not to trust as we are hit with so much information throughout our days of being told what to believe about social problems. At the end of the day, I think everyone wants to feel safe and secure. It’s a basic human need.” 

When comparing violent crime rates internationally, the United States has seen a decrease in violent crime rates over the past 25 years. However, it is important to note that the U.S. still has higher violent crime rates compared to many European countries, which often have stricter gun laws and more effective law enforcement. This comparison highlights the complexity of crime trends and the influence of various societal factors. 

“Violent crime rates tend to be lower in places where cultures emphasize social harmony and cohesion and also in places where people have their basic needs met,” said Cline. “The UN reports lower homicide rates in countries that have lower income inequality, and we have a very high level of income inequality, see our GINI Coefficient, for example. Countries with higher levels of gender inequality also tend to have more gender violence.” 

The perception of rising violent crime in the United States is more reflective of media influence than actual data. While the U.S. does have higher crime rates than some other countries, the trend is towards a decrease in violent crime. It is crucial for the public to look beyond the headlines and understand the broader context of crime statistics to form a more accurate view of safety and security in society. 

About Jeannette Carrington

Jeannette is Editor-in-Chief. She is pursuing a degree in Graphic Design and a certificate in Photography. After graduation, she plans to expand her photography and graphic design business.
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