Physical Injuries from Violence vs. Criminalization of Violence

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Injuries from violent victimization are reported in the U.S. in two different types of reports: reports on visits to hospital emergency departments, and police reports. Measured in hospital emergency departments visits due to injuries from violence, men suffer 59% more violence than do women. In police reports, by contrast, men comprise 28% fewer victims of violence than do women. Police action against violence appears to be biased toward protecting women relative to men. Moreover, police-identified victims of serious physical violence are only a small subset of all victims of serious physical violence.

High-quality, nationally representative U.S. data on hospital emergency department visits are available through the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System All-Injury Program (NEISS AIP) and the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NHAMCS). According to NEISS AIP (the NHAMCS figure is similar), men in 2010 suffered 59% more hospital emergency department visits from violent victimizations than did women. That figure defines men and women as males and females ages 18 and over, respectively. It excludes from violent injuries those injuries received in suicide attempts and law enforcement action. The difference in violent injury totals doesn’t account for the baseline population difference: the total number of women in the U.S. exceeds the number of men by about 6%.

Partial coverage of U.S. police reports of violent victimizations is available through the FBI’s National Incident Based Reporting System (NIBRS). NIBRS provides data on police-designated victims in incidents that the police addressed. NIBRS reporting agencies in 2010 covered about 27% of the U.S. population, with a bias away from the largest cities. NIBRS reported data include the officer’s perception of physical injuries to victims, coded in the following categories:

  1. None
  2. Apparent Minor Injury
  3. Apparent Broken Bones
  4. Other Major Injury
  5. Possible Internal Injury
  6. Loss of Teeth
  7. Severe Laceration
  8. Unconsciousness
  9. Not applicable

In the 2010 NIBRS police reports, victims with serious physical injuries, defined as injury categories 3 to 8, scaled for national coverage still amounted to only 14% of NEISS-estimated hospital emergency department visits due to injuries from violence. Across all police-designated victims of violence, men were 28% fewer than women. Police-designated victims of violence differ greatly in number and sex composition from victims of violence measured through hospital emergency department visits.

Data in details:

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