Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Most Curious Statistic

A Most Curious Statistic

I've seen this claim made before, and it was so unbelievable--and so offensive--that I just assumed that those making the claim were playing some sort of dishonest game on this. Perhaps they were picking one year where there was something wrong with the method by which the National Crime Victimization Survey gathers data.

The claim is that in the 2005 single-offender rapes/sexual assaults in the National Crime Victimization Survey data, there is simply no rape of black women by white men. Black women are raped entirely by black men. And sure enough, that is what the 2005 data shows. Now, the number of rapes that make it into the NCVS data is small enough that there's an asterisk next to the 0.0% that says the sample size was so small (less than 10 incidents in the sampled population) as to be statistically not significant.

So I started going back, year by year. The link above shows data back to 1996. In 2004, it is still 0.0% of rapes that were white offender, black victim. And in 2003. In 2002, it is 14.2%. In 2001, it is 13.4%. In 2000, 7.0%. In 1999, 0.0%. In 1998, 7.2%. In 1997, 0.0%. In 1996, 13.5%. And every year, the percentage is statistically not significant, because the number of incidents was based on "about 10 or less" crimes.

I'm really quite curious about this. This isn't the 1950s South, where a white guy could probably get away with raping a black woman, as long as he didn't do it in the middle of town at high noon. And it isn't that there isn't interracial rape. While the bulk of white victims are victimized by white offenders, in every year, there are black offenders/white victims, from a low of 7.0% in 2000 (and not statistically significant, because 10 or fewer crimes), to a high of 33.6% in 2005 (and in that year, statistically significant).

Let me emphasize: this is from the National Crime Victimization Survey, not crimes charged, or the results of police investigations sweeping something under the rug. This is based on crimes reported by victims. There is something terribly, terribly bizarre about this.

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