Domestic Violence is Way, Way Down

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Good news about a bad phenomenon: the number of Americans getting attacked by their spouses and (so-called) lovers has fallen by more than half in the last 20 years. The federal Bureau of Justice Statistics says in a recent report that rapes and assaults committed by a victim’s current or former spouse, boyfriend, or girlfriend - what BJS calls "intimate partner violence" - dropped from 2.1 million to 970,000 between 1993 and 2010, a 64 per cent plunge.

The overwhelming majority of the victims, unsurprisingly, are women, especially those between the ages of 18 and 34. One particularly ugly twist: unmarried women with children were attacked at six times the rate of single women without kids.

What explains the drop? Well, it's in line with the overall plunge in violent crime in this country over the last decade, which has brought homicide down to levels not seen since the 1950s. Many factors seem to be at work, including the general aging of the population, more effective policing, increased public surveillance and the fact that we lock up more people than any other country on Earth. Not all of those causes are worth celebrating - but this particular effect, of fewer scumbags beating up women, sure is.

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