The FBI compilation showing that violent crime reports were down significantly last year as the housing market remains stagnant and unemployment remains persistently high puzzles the experts. “It will be years before we get the answer, if we do, to what's going on right now,” William Pridemore of Indiana University tells the Christian Science Monitor. “Criminologists have been pretty stumped.” Better technology has made law enforcement more adept at strategic policing, says criminologist James Alan Fox of Northeastern University. Another reason is the aging baby boom population over 50, which represents a group that has “the lowest involvement in crime,” he says.
There were exceptions to the trend. Violent crime reports in New York City rose 5 percent in 2010. Pridemore suggests that the economy is much more likely to have an effect on crimes connected to family stress inside the home, such as suicide and partner and child abuse. A new study in Pediatrics magazine links child abuse, mostly of infants, to the recession. Abuse of children under age 5 increased 65 percent during the recession.