Despite their fears, older persons are the least likely to be victims of violent crimes, according to a government survey released Wednesday.
Children 12 to 15 years old - the lowest age bracket surveyed - had the highest risk, with one in every eight of them victimized. By contrast, people over 65 had one chance in 179 of being involved in a violent crime.
The 1993 survey by the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics found that victimization rates steadily declined with age. Among assault victims, for example, the rate was one in 10.2 for those between 16 and 19, while it was one in 244 for those over 65.
Violent crimes are defined as rape, sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault and simple assault.
The bureau survey found more than 11 million violent victimizations in 1993 - continuing a gradual seven-year rise - and more than 32 million property crimes. More than 70 percent of the violent victimizations were attempted but uncompleted incidents such as robberies in which no property was taken.
More than 1 million of the violent crimes in 1993 were committed by someone related to the victim - about half of them by a spouse.
Young males, blacks, Hispanics, residents of central cities, renters and the poor were most likely to be victims, the survey said.
The elderly have never been at high risk for crime, said Lynn Feder, an assistant professor in Florida Atlantic University’s Department of Criminal Justice.
“Women and the elderly are both least likely to be victimized, yet both groups are the most fearful of crime,” Feder said.
“There are many hypotheses as to why the level of fear is not connected to the number” of crimes committed, she said, noting that the elderly may feel vulnerable - and therefore act more cautious - while the young people feel confident and take more risks.
The annual survey included nearly 50,000 households and 100,000 individuals.
The annual National Crime Victimization Survey is based on information collected from more than 100,000 people in nearly 50,000 households.
According to the survey, the number of threats and violent crimes rose for the seventh year. The total number of crimes involving people at least 12 years old was estimated at 43.6 million.