Increased Awareness of Unreported Crimes
During the past few years, the general public became aware of the alleged criminal history of more than a few celebrities, politicians, and other famous figures. Paired with these accusations is a question often asked of the victim: why didn’t you report this earlier? This question is common but often misunderstood. Crimes go unreported for any number of reasons, even when the perpetrator or victim has no claim to fame.
Sadly, perhaps the most common crime that goes unreported is rape and sexual assault. While the number of assault reports has gone down, there’s been an increase in the number of injuries reported due to assault. These cases can be challenging to bring to court, as every attorney for sexual assault victims can attest. Often the victim may choose not to go through the harsh glare of a public trial.
Another vastly underreported criminal act is hate crimes, the vast majority of which include some form of violence or vandalism. Statistics show that Caucasians are significantly more likely to report a crime of violence than minorities, especially African Americans. Since hate crimes are most likely perpetrated against minorities, these types of crimes tend to be some of the most underreported criminal acts.
Perhaps the most significant reason crimes go unreported is due to the criminal justice system’s perceived ineffectiveness or bias. Many groups lacking power in today’s societal structure don’t feel the need to report crimes to a system that’s shown itself to be unfair and biased. Victims may also fear retribution or, when the perpetrator is known to the victim, may not want to get the accused in trouble.
Improving Unreported Crime Statistics
There is hope for decreasing the percentage of crimes that go unreported. Local police officials have again realized the importance of having a positive relationship with their neighborhoods. Local activist groups have started a real conversation about what those relationships can and should resemble. The current movement to get victims to speak out about their crimes also helps to encourage others to speak out, as well.