Why People Don’t Report
There are many reasons why people do not report crimes. Ask students to read Why People Don’t Report, list the reasons they agree with and why. Students then pair and share their findings. As a class, discuss the reasons most likely to prevent people reporting a crime.
Lesson Idea: Why People Don’t Report
Researchers have discovered two key reasons why crimes go unreported.
- If a relatively minor crime, like a burglary, escalates into a major, violent crime like murder, only the more significant crime is recorded for statistical purposes. In this hypothetical example, the murder would be reported, but not the original burglary. This is known by prosecutors as “lesser included crimes.” When researchers or policymakers examine burglary statistics in the community where the crime took place, the results would make the neighbourhood seem less prone to burglary than it actually is.
- A community’s relationship with its local police officers can have a significant effect on whether crimes will be reported. In a community where police officers are respected and welcomed as partners in public safety, crimes are much more likely to be reported and recorded. By contrast, in an area where a combative relationship exists between citizens and police, the community is much less likely to bring crimes to the attention of law enforcement. This makes dysfunctional communities appear safer than they actually are, because the reality of crimes committed is worse than the surface statistics indicate.
As a class, discuss the following questions:
- What are the reasons why crime statistics may not be that accurate in determining the safety of any community?
- What might the consequences be of inaccurate crime statistics?