Pockets Of Concentrated Poverty Have More Domestic Violence

March 01, 1997

Appearing in the March/April 1997 issue of Public Health Reports

Poor neighborhoods often are seen as having the most perpetrators of violent crime, but they also have the most victims, especially when it comes to personal crimes between "intimates," say researchers. They base their findings on a study of Duval County, Florida, whose homicide rate is among the highest in the country. Using 1992 police reports of incidents of assaultive violence, they found that the rate of incidents involving husbands, wives, girlfriends, and boyfriends was nine times higher in neighborhoods of concentrated poverty than in other areas; the rate involving friends and acquaintances was also nine times higher; between strangers was six times higher.

Compared to other neighborhoods, those with a concentration of people living in poverty are characterized by fewer prospects for employment, less access to public services, fewer opportunities for educational advancement, lower real estate values. They are also likely to have fewer formal (police protection) or informal (community crime prevention strategies) social controls available.

While assaultive violence among intimates can be observed among all socioeconomic groups, it is not evenly distributed. This study suggests that prevention resources would best be targeted to the poorest neighborhoods to maximize the impact.

CONTACT: Rebecca Miles-Doan, PhD, Center for the Study of Population, Department of Urban and Regional Planning, Florida State University; tel. 904-644-7102; fax 904-644-8818; e-mail .

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