Of the four FBI Index violent offenses (homicide, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault), rape was the only crime that did not show a steady downward trend in the San Diego region during the past ten years. Officials cite increased reporting and education about the crime as possible reasons for this trend.
From 1993 to 2002, the number of violent crimes reported to law enforcement agencies throughout the San Diego region fell 39 percent overall, to 14,032 incidents in 2002 from 22,958 in 1993. During the same period, homicides dropped 65 percent, robberies declined 55 percent, and aggravated assault decreased 32 percent.
While some variation in reported rape cases occurred in the ten-year period, virtually the same number of cases was reported in 1993 as in 2002. The total number of rapes dipped to a 10-year low of 724 in 1995, compared to a high of 882 in 1997.
Law enforcement experts suggest that the fact that rape numbers have not declined over time compared to the other major crimes of violence relates to an increase in the juvenile population and youth involvement in rape crimes. Officials also cite efforts of social service and justice agencies to educate the public on what constitutes a sexual assault offense.
"These educational programs provide a safer, more understanding environment for victims to report rape, meaning that it's likely that more rapes are reported," said Dr. Cynthia Burke, SANDAG's Director of Criminal Justice Research.
One example of such an effort to encourage reporting is the San Diego Police Department's Speakers' Bureau in the City Schools, which addresses the issue of sexual assault with young teens at school assemblies.
For more information about preventing rape and other violent crimes, please visit the City of San Diego Police Department Web site on sexual assault. Citizens can call (619) 531-2210 to report rape or ask questions about rape offenses.
Project Manager: Dr. Cynthia Burke