Why Is the Number of Sexual Assaults Rising in New York City?

New York City skyline (The Huffington Post)

New York City skyline (The Huffington Post)

Certain types of violence are on the rise in the city that never sleeps. In addition to shooting and homicides increasing year-over-year, the number of rapes and sexual assaults has also increased.

But is it enough to panic over? Let’s look at the numbers. “The New York Times” reports:

From Jan. 1 to May 31, there were 540 rapes recorded in the city, an 8 percent increase over the same period last year, and more than 1,128 misdemeanor sex crimes, representing a rise of 18 percent.

But on the bright side, some types of sexual violence has declined within the city:

According to national data from the Centers for Disease Control in 2012, the rate of stranger rape as a percentage of all rape is 14 percent; in New York City this year, the rate is half that. Of the 540 reported rapes, 39 were committed by someone the victim did not know, according to the police.

But why are the overall numbers climbing? The phenomenon can be attributed to a simple economic principle: the complement effect. Numbers are climbing because more people are reporting them. And that’s a good thing! The more people that are aware of these crimes and can report them, the more accurate a picture we can get of just how rampant sexual assaults are.

I’m interested to see if this is, or will be, the case in other cities.

 

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