Is Female Violence on the Rise? [Conflicting] Conclusions From Multiple Sources of Evidence

Jennifer Schwartz, The Pennsylvania State University
Darrell Steffensmeier, The Pennsylvania State University

We assess the view that female violence has been increasing faster or catching up with male levels of violence as frequently suggested in both the popular press and social science writings. The principal goal of this paper is to examine trends in adult female violence over the past several decades to examine constancy and change in female-to-male patterns and to offer a framework for understanding these emergent patterns. We use multiple sources of data to evaluate whether the level and seriousness of female violent crime is escalating relative to males; these sources include official measures (e.g., UCR arrests, incarceration records) as well as unofficial sources (e.g., self-report surveys, NCVS). One main objective will be to present the factual material (e.g., rates, offender profiles, female share of offending) in a straightforward, easily understandable manner so the reader can draw her/his own conclusions regarding the extent of constancy or change in female-to-male criminal violence.

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Updated 05/20/2006