–C–
Procedures and Operations of the National Crime Victimization Survey

This summary derives heavily from the survey methodology documentation accompanying the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) annual report Criminal Victimization in the United States, to which we refer readers for additional detail (see Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2006a).

C–1
SAMPLE DESIGN AND SIZE

C–1.a
Sample Construction

The National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) “has a national sample of approximately 56,000 designated addresses located in approximately 673 primary sampling units throughout the United States” (Demographic Surveys Division, U.S. Census Bureau, 2007b). Specifically, the survey follows a stratified, multistage cluster sample design (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2006a:130):

  • First stage: The primary sampling units (PSUs) for the NCVS are “counties, groups of counties, or large metropolitan areas” that are grouped into strata.1 Large PSUs (in population) are “self-

1

The NCVS interviewer manual (U.S. Census Bureau, 2003:A1-9) implies that subcounty units—either the minor civil divisions that are functioning governmental units in some states



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–C– Procedures and Operations of the National Crime Victimization Survey This summary derives heavily from the survey methodology documen- tation accompanying the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) annual report Criminal Victimization in the United States, to which we refer readers for additional detail (see Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2006a). C–1 SAMPLE DESIGN AND SIZE C–1.a Sample Construction The National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) “has a national sam- ple of approximately 56,000 designated addresses located in approximately 673 primary sampling units throughout the United States” (Demographic Surveys Division, U.S. Census Bureau, 2007b). Specifically, the survey fol- lows a stratified, multistage cluster sample design (Bureau of Justice Statis- tics, 2006a:130): • First stage: The primary sampling units (PSUs) for the NCVS are “counties, groups of counties, or large metropolitan areas” that are grouped into strata.1 Large PSUs (in population) are “self- 1 The NCVS interviewer manual (U.S. Census Bureau, 2003:A1-9) implies that subcounty units—either the minor civil divisions that are functioning governmental units in some states 153

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154 SURVEYING VICTIMS representing” (SR) because each is assigned to its own stratum and each is automatically selected for the sample. Decennial census data on “ge- ographic and demographic characteristics” are used to group smaller PSUs into strata.2 These smaller PSUs are “non-self-representing” (NSR) because only one PSU per stratum (selected with probability proportional to population size) is drawn for inclusion in the sample. • Second stage: Within each sample PSU, “clusters of approximately four housing units or housing unit equivalents” are drawn from each of four nonoverlapping frames: (1) the unit frame, a listing of housing units for the PSU from the decennial census Master Address File (MAF); (2) the group quarters frame, a listing of nonhousehold units such as college dormitories and rooming houses derived from the decennial census roster of such places; (3) the area frame, consisting of census blocks; and (4) the permit frame, a listing of addresses compiled from building permit data. The use of the permit data allows for housing constructed after the most recent decennial census to be included in the NCVS. For NCVS data collected in 2005, the sample design consisted of 93 SR PSUs and 110 NSR strata. The original design based on 1990 census files included 152 NSR strata, but 42 were eliminated due to a sample cut in 1996 (see Box 1-2). The various units, strata, and frames used in the sample design of the NCVS are keyed to the decennial census; however, the transition to files based on a new decennial census is not as rapid as might be imagined. Sample based on addresses from the 2000 census Master Address File only began to be phased in starting in 2005; as of 2007, the NCVS remains a hybrid of 2000- and 1990-census-based sample. Likewise, both 1980- and 1990-based sample were used through 1997, with 1990-only sample only beginning in 1998. With respect to the group quarters coverage of the NCVS sample, it is important to note that BJS and the Census Bureau exclude some major types of nonhousehold, group quarters types from eligibility in the survey. In particular, “institutionalized persons, such as correctional facility inmates,” are not included in the NCVS, nor are seaborne personnel on merchant vessels or armed forces personnel living in barracks. (e.g., townships) or the similarly sized census county divisions that the Census Bureau defines for other states—may also be grouped into strata. Hence, PSUs need not be made up of whole counties. This is particularly so in New England and Hawaii, where stratification PSUs “could consist of one or more” of these subcounty areas. 2 “These characteristics include geographic region, population density, rate of growth, pop- ulation, principal industry, and type of agriculture” (U.S. Census Bureau, 2003:A1-9).

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APPENDIX C 155 C–1.b Person-Level Eligibility for Inclusion in the NCVS In addition to the restriction of some group quarters types from NCVS eligibility—thus excluding people like jail or prison inmates—the NCVS also restricts the coverage of the survey by age. Within units selected for the sample, NCVS interviewers are directed to obtain reports for only those individuals age 12 or older. Furthermore, “U.S. citizens residing abroad and foreign visitors to this country” are not supposed to be included in the NCVS. The youngest of NCVS-eligible persons—12- and 13-year-olds—are one of three cases in which proxy reporting (and not a direct interview) is per- mitted; if the household respondent (see Section C–3.a) insists that the inter- viewer not directly question a 12- or 13-year-old, questionnaire information may be taken from that household member. The other two cases in which proxy reporting is allowed are “temporarily absent household members and persons who are physically or mentally incapable of granting interviews”; in the latter instance, a person who is not a member or usual resident of the household (e.g., a professional caregiver) may provide the requested infor- mation.3 C–1.c Sample Size Over Time Table C-1 shows the number of sample households and the number of persons contacted in those households for the most recent years for which NCVS data are available. The table also illustrates the decline in NCVS sample size over time. When the National Crime Survey began in 1972, it reached a household sample of 72,000 households; by 2005, that sample had nearly been halved to 38,600. Some of the sample size cuts contributing to this decline are listed in Box 1-2. The combination of a declining sample size and less crime to measure— overall, “the rate of crime remains at the lowest levels in the past thirty years” (Catalano, 2006:3)—makes it extremely difficult to discern year-to- year annual change, even in aggregate measures like the rate of all violent crime. The violent crime rates for 1993–2005 are illustrated in Figure C-1, along with boxes showing the 95 percent confidence intervals associated with those rates; significant annual change differences have been rare in the past decade. For this reason, the BJS Criminal Victimization bulletins (e.g., Catalano, 2006) make comparisons based on 2-year groups of data. 3 Interpreters and signers are permitted to respond for persons who do not understand English or who are deaf, respectively, but these are not considered proxy respondents.

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156 SURVEYING VICTIMS Table C-1 Number of Households and Persons Interviewed by Year, 1996–2005 Households Persons Year Sample Size Response Rate Sample Size Response Rate 1996 45,000 93 85,330 91 1997 42,910 95 79,470 90 1998 43,000 94 78,900 89 1999 43,000 93 77,750 89 2000 43,000 93 79,710 90 2001 44,000 93 79,950 89 2002 42,000 92 76,050 87 2003 42,000 92 74,520 86 2004 42,000 91 74,500 86 2005 38,600 91 67,000 84 NOTE: These sample sizes correspond to the number of separate households and persons designated for contact in a particular year. Participation rates for a particular year would be roughly double these, accounting for two interviews with sample addresses in the same year. SOURCE: Bureau of Justice Statistics (2006a). Figure C-1 Year-to-year change in NCVS violent crime victimization rate, 1993–2005 NOTE: Boxes denote the 95 percent confidence interval for each year’s victimization rate. Rates are for violent victimizations per 1,000 population for persons age 12 and over. SOURCE: Bureau of Justice Statistics; see Catalano (2006).

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APPENDIX C 157 C–2 ROTATING PANEL DESIGN The NCVS follows a rotating panel design: its sample of addresses, drawn from the four different sampling frames described above, is divided into six equally sized “rotation groups,” and each rotation group is further divided into six “panels.” One panel from each of the rotation groups is designated for interviewing each month. NCVS interviews are scheduled at 6-month intervals, and each house- hold remains in the sample for 3.5 years or a total of 7 interviews. A new rotation group is added into the sample every 6 months, to replace the ro- tation group that is exiting the sample because its 3.5-year eligibility is com- plete. In each interview, Census Bureau field representatives are directed to identify a “household respondent,” who is the first person to be interviewed and the only person to be asked questions about crimes against the house- hold as a whole. In the second through seventh interviews conducted with the same household, the interviewers are encouraged to use the same per- son as the household respondent, if possible. The household respondent is discussed further in Section C–3.a. C–2.a Reference Period The NCVS uses a 6-month reference period; that is, it asks its respon- dents to list and provide information on victimization incidents they ex- perienced within the 6-month window before the NCVS interview. The reference period used for an interview in a particular month is graphically illustrated in Table C-2. The NCVS Resource Guide maintained by the National Archive of Crim- inal Justice Data4 summarizes the basic issues and inherent trade-offs in des- ignating a particular reference period as follows: Generally, respondents are able to recall more accurately an event which occurred within three months of the interview rather than one which occurred within six months; they can recall events over a six-month pe- riod more accurately than over a 12-month period. However, a shorter reference period would require more field interviews per year, increas- ing the data collection costs significantly. These increased costs would have to be balanced by cost reductions elsewhere (sample size is often considered). Reducing sample size however, reduces the precision of estimates of relatively rare crimes. In light of these trade-offs of cost and precision, a reference period of six months is used for the NCVS. 4 See http://www.icpsr.umich.edu/NACJD/NCVS/ [6/4/07].

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158 Table C-2 Month of Incident by Month of Interview in the Current NCVS Sample Design Month of Interview Month of Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Incident t t t t t t t t t t t t t +1 t +1 t +1 t +1 t +1 t +1 X Jul t − 1 X X Aug t − 1 X X X Sep t − 1 X X X X Oct t − 1 X X X X X Nov t − 1 X X X X X X Dec t − 1 X X X X X X Jan t X X X X X X Feb t X X X X X X Mar t X X X X X X Apr t X X X X X X May t X X X X X X Jun t X X X X X X Jul t X X X X X X Aug t X X X X X X Sep t X X X X X X Oct t X X X X X X Nov t X X X X X X Dec t NOTES: Xs denote months in the 6-month reference period, for which any victimization incidents are supposed to be reported at the time of interview. Grey shading indicates the months that are combined to produce collection-year estimates for year t (collecting all interviews conducted in year t , which can include reports of incidents occurring in the last half of year t − 1). The ruled box denotes months that would be used for data-year estimates for year t (collecting interviews where incidents occurred in year t ). SOURCE: Bureau of Justice Statistics (2000:63). SURVEYING VICTIMS

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APPENDIX C 159 C–2.b Mode of Survey Contact Over Repeated Interviews When the NCVS began, it relied strictly on face-to-face visits from Cen- sus Bureau field staff to sample households conducting pencil-and-paper in- terviews. Beginning in 1980, BJS and the Census Bureau began to shift toward increased use of telephone interviewing in the interest of reducing survey costs. It was deemed essential—and remains a requirement today— that the first interview with a sample household be conducted through a personal interview. But, starting in 1980, the use of the telephone in every other interview (2, 4, and 6) was encouraged. As described in Box 1-2, this was later revised to encourage even wider use of telephone interviewing, with only interviews 1 and 5 slated for personal visits. By 2003, “subse- quent NCVS interviews” after the initial interview were to be carried out by phone “whenever possible” (U.S. Census Bureau, 2003:A1-11); interview- ers were advised that “most of your NCVS interviews will be by telephone” because “telephone interviews are more cost effective” (U.S. Census Bureau, 2003:A5-3). Further, the restriction that the first-time-in-sample interview be conducted in person applies only to the household respondent (see Sec- tion C–3.a); “any other eligible household members who are not available during [the interviewer’s initial visit] can be interviewed by telephone” (U.S. Census Bureau, 2003:A5-3). Accordingly, some NCVS respondents may never be interviewed face-to-face in a personal visit during the 3.5 years a household remains in sample. About 30 percent of interviews with sample households were designated for completion by computer-assisted telephone interviewing (CATI) from Census Bureau CATI centers in Hagerstown, Maryland, and Tucson, Ari- zona (U.S. Census Bureau, 2003:A1-11). By 2007, BJS concluded that the expected cost savings from CATI interviewing from the Census Bureau call centers had not been realized. As part of a package of revisions to cover NCVS costs for three years, BJS and the Census Bureau decided to suspend the use of the Census Bureau CATI centers for the NCVS. However, this covers only the formal CATI interviews from the designated call centers, which is to say that “informal” telephone interviewing—with Census Bu- reau field representatives calling households in their designated workloads to complete interviews by phone—is still employed (and encouraged) for interviews 2–7 with sample households. Prior to the first-time-in-sample interview, conducted in person, an in- troductory letter is sent by the Census Bureau to each sample housing unit, advising household members of their selection for the sample and providing the household with the address and phone number of the appropriate Cen- sus Bureau regional office. A similar introductory letter “is usually mailed before each subsequent enumeration period” (U.S. Census Bureau, 2003:A2-

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160 SURVEYING VICTIMS 3). Unlike the decennial census (and the new American Community Survey conducted by the Census Bureau), responses to the NCVS are not required by law, and households are advised of the voluntary nature of the survey, in compliance with federal privacy laws. C–2.c Bounding A common concern of researchers employing reference periods in retro- spective surveys is telescoping. Telescoping refers to a respondent’s misspec- ification of when an incident occurred in relation to the reference period. For example, telescoping occurs if a respondent is asked about victimizations within the last six months and erroneously includes a victimization that oc- curred eight months ago. Telescoped events that actually occurred prior to the reference period can be minimized at the time of the first interview by a technique known as bounding. Bounding is achieved by comparing incidents reported in an interview with incidents reported in a previous interview and deleting duplicate incidents that were reported in the current reference pe- riod. In the National Crime Survey (NCS) and NCVS designs, each visit to a household is used to bound the next one by comparing reports in the current interview with those given six months prior. When a report appears to be a duplicate, the respondent is reminded of the earlier report and asked if the new report represents the incident previously mentioned or if it is dif- ferent. The first interview at a household entering the sample is unbounded, and data collected at these interviews were not included in NCS and NCVS estimates until very recently. Skogan (1990:262) notes that the use of the bounding interview emerged as a high priority from the initial pilot studies that preceded the full National Crime Survey: One of the clearest methodological findings of the pilot studies . . . was that people draw incidents into the temporal window that they are sup- posed to describe (“the past six months”) when in fact those incidents occurred outside of the time frame. The effect of these out-of-range incidents is very large, increasing the victimization count by between 40% and 50% depending on the type of crime; the inflation is greatest for violent crimes and those (often more serious) that were reported to police, and it is smallest for simple thefts. Hence, withholding the first interview for use in bounding acted as a safe- guard for including these out-of-range incidents. However, the NCVS sample is a rotating panel of addresses rather than people. As such, “movers”—addresses whose occupants change during the time that the address is in the sample—pose a challenge for the practice of

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APPENDIX C 161 withholding a bounding interview. Historically, the NCVS treated the prob- lem in the simplest and most cost-effective way: include interviews 2–7 in the estimates, regardless of whether a bounding interview exists for the spe- cific household at an address. That is, if a sample address changes hands between interview periods, the first interview with the new household mem- bers is unbounded but included in NCVS estimates. This use of unbounded interviews for mover households “inflat[es] estimates of the victimization rate. The number of respondents involved is substantial; the yearly attrition rate from the NCS sometimes approaches 20%, although that figure fluc- tuates” Skogan (1990:262). Cantor and Lynch (2000:119) cite the use of unbounded data from movers as an example of an inconsistency in treat- ment within the NCVS that may be correlated with measurement error. In addition to inflated reports of victimization, they note (citing Biderman and Cantor, 1984) that “those [people who are] most likely to move have higher victimization rates,” so that the survey “will overestimate the relationship between mobility (and its correlates) with victimization.” Alternative techniques for handling movers have been considered from time to time. In particular, the consortium that redesigned the survey over the 1980s (resulting in the new NCVS in 1992) considered “a scheme for re- taining individuals who move in the sample, tracking them over time for up to several more years; the design was akin to that now utilized by the Cen- sus Bureau’s Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP)” (Skogan, 1990:263). NCVS practices for bounding interviews and mover households re- mained the same until enactment of a set of cost-cutting measures in 2007 (for application to 2006 data). Under the new plan, unbounded first-time- in-sample interviews were to be included in NCVS estimates; this change was accompanied by a corresponding reduction in overall sample size. C–3 STRUCTURE OF THE NCVS INSTRUMENT AND INTERVIEW In the sections that follow, we generally describe the features of the NCVS instrument and the progress of an NCVS interview through refer- ence to the most recent versions of the survey in paper-and-pencil format. After several years of work, the NCVS is now fully implemented through computer-assisted means, with interviewers using laptop computers to ad- minister the interviews (or, until their abandonment, with interviews con- ducted from Census Bureau–operated telephone call centers). Hence, some of the terminology (e.g., Control Card) and naming conventions (e.g., a NCVS-2 form) is not in current usage, but they remain useful in describing the general structure of the survey.

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162 SURVEYING VICTIMS C–3.a Household and Individual Respondents Within each household contacted at a sample address, one person is des- ignated the household respondent; the other eligible persons for interviewing are termed individual respondents. Interviewers are urged “to find the most knowledgeable household member who is at least 18 years of age” for se- lection as the household member. Typically, this is “one of the persons who owns or rents the home,” and as such is also the reference person for the household (for determining each individual respondent’s relationship to the household). In the subsequent interviews at the same address, interviewers are asked to try to use the same person as the household respondent (U.S. Census Bureau, 2003:A2-10). The household respondent is the first person interviewed and is the only person in the household who is asked about “thefts of certain kinds of things that are considered the common property of the household,” including ques- tions about “burglary, motor vehicle theft, and the theft of specific household property such as plants or lawn furniture” (Cantor and Lynch, 2000:95). Al- though this approach avoids duplication and reduces the overall reporting burden for the household, Cantor and Lynch (2000:119) (citing Biderman et al., 1985) suggest that this household screener approach also “reveals more crimes against individuals as well. . . . The selection of household [re- spondents] is negatively correlated with victim risk (the household member who tends to stay home is most likely to be selected as the household [re- spondent]). This depresses relationships associated with risk.” C–3.b Control Card As described in NCVS technical documentation (Bureau of Justice Statis- tics, 2007a): The Control Card is the basic administrative record for each sample unit. It contains the address of each sample unit and the basic house- hold data, such as the names of all persons living there and their age, race, sex, marital status, education and the like. Household income, tenure of the unit and pertinent information about non-interviews are also included on the Control Card. The Control Card serves as a record of visits, telephone calls, interviews, and non-interview reasons. The Control Card information is updated, as needed, during each visit to the housing unit, except for questions about educational attainment, income, and tenure, which are only asked every other visit. The Control Card also serves as a vehicle for bounding interviews (see Section C–2.c), in addition to the application of weights in generating esti- mates. At the end of an Incident Report (described below in Section C–3.d), basic summary information about the incident is summarized and compared

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APPENDIX C 163 against entries on the Control Card. The NCVS interviewing manual (U.S. Census Bureau, 2003:C1-36) advises interviewers that: If you suspect that a duplication has occurred, tactfully ask the respon- dent whether the incidents are the same (for example, same time, place, and circumstances) or separate crime incidents (for example, same place and circumstances, but different times). If the newly reported incident is determined to be the same as a Control Card entry, then it is marked as “out of scope” for further processing. C–3.c Screening Questions (NCVS-1) The core of the Basic Screen Questionnaire—referred to, from its paper incarnation, as form NCVS-1—is a set of screening questions. Interviewers are instructed to tell respondents that “I’m going to read some examples that will give you an idea of the kinds of crimes this study covers. As I go through them, tell me if any of these happened to you in the last six months, that is, since [Specific Reference Date].” Each subsequent screening question (or “screener,” for short) consists of a fairly detailed description of a particular victimization type. The respondent is asked, “Did any incidents of this type happen to you?” If the answer is “yes,” the respondent is asked, “How many times?” and is allowed to briefly describe the incident. After the bank of screening questions is complete, interviewers are directed to go through an Incident Report—described in the next section—for each category for which the number of reported incidents is greater than zero. This process is repeated for each person age 12 or older in the household. As of the 2005 version of the NCVS instrument, the basic screener ques- tions (as administered to the household respondent, and so including the questions about crimes against the household) were as follows: • Q36a: Was something belonging to YOU stolen, such as – (a) Things that you carry, like luggage, a wallet, purse, briefcase, book – (b) Clothing, jewelry, or cellphone – (c) Bicycle or sports equipment – (d) Things in your home – like a TV, stereo, or tools (e) Things outside your home such as a garden hose or lawn furniture – (f)Things belonging to children in the household – (g) Things from a vehicle, such as a package, groceries, camera, or CDs – OR (h) Did anyone ATTEMPT to steal anything belonging to you? • Q37a: [Other than any incidents already mentioned,] has anyone –

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164 SURVEYING VICTIMS (a) Broken in or ATTEMPTED to break into your home by forcing a door or window, pushing past someone, jimmying a lock, cutting a screen, or entering through an open door or window? (b) Has anyone illegally gotten in or tried to get into a garage, shed, or storage room? OR (c) Illegally gotten in or tried to get into a hotel or motel room or vacation home where you were staying? • Following a question on the total number of motor vehicles owned by the household, Q39a: During the last 6 months, (other than any incidents already mentioned,) (was the vehicle/were any of the vehicles) – (a) Stolen or used without permission? (b) Did anyone steal any parts such as a tire, car stereo, hubcap, or battery? (c) Did anyone steal any gas from (it/them)? OR (d) Did anyone ATTEMPT to steal any vehicle or parts attached to (it/them)? • Q40a: (Other than any incidents already mentioned,) since [Specific Reference Date], were you attacked or threatened OR did you have something stolen from you – (a) At home including the porch or yard – (b) At or near a friend’s, relative’s, or neighbor’s home – (c) At work or school – (d) In places such as a storage shed or laundry room, a shopping mall, restau- rant, bank, or airport – (e) While riding in any vehicle – (f) On the street or in a parking lot – (g) At such places as a party, theater, gym, picnic area, bowling lanes, or while fishing or hunting – OR (h) Did anyone ATTEMPT to attack or ATTEMPT to steal anything belong- ing to you from any of these places? • Q41a: (Other than any incidents already mentioned,) has anyone attacked or threatened you in any of these ways (Exclude telephone threats) – (a) With any weapon, for instance, a gun or knife – (b) By something thrown, such as a rock or bottle – (c) With anything like a baseball bat, frying pan, scissors, or stick – (d) Include any grabbing, punching, or choking, (e) Any rape, attempted rape or other type of sexual attack – (f) Any face to face threats – OR (g) Any attack or threat or use of force by anyone at all? Please mention it even if you are not certain it was a crime.

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APPENDIX C 165 • Q42a: People often don’t think of incidents committed by someone they know. (Other than any incidents already mentioned,) did you have something stolen from you OR were you attacked or threatened by (Exclude telephone threats) – (a) Someone at work or school – (b) A neighbor or friend – (c) A relative or family member – (d) Any other person you’ve met or known? • Q43a: Incidents involving forced or unwanted sexual acts are often difficult to talk about. (Other than any incidents already mentioned,) have you been forced or coerced to engage in unwanted sexual activity by – (a) Someone you didn’t know before – (b) A casual acquaintance – OR (c) Someone you know well? • Q44a: During the last 6 months, (other than any incidents already mentioned,) did you call the police to report something that happened to YOU which you thought was a crime? If the answer is “yes,” a brief description is sought. The interviewer is then instructed to review this description to see whether it adequately answers the question: Were you (was the respondent) attacked or threatened, or was something stolen or an attempt made to steal something that belonged to you (the respondent) or another household member? If the interviewer is unsure, they are told to directly ask the respondent this follow-up question; otherwise, they may mark “yes” or “no” without asking. • Q45a: During the last 6 months, (other than any incidents already mentioned,) did anything which you thought was a crime happen to YOU, but you did NOT report to the police? Like Q44a, a description is sought if the answer is yes. Based on that description, the interviewer either marks “yes” or “no” to or directly asks the question: Were you (was the respondent) attacked or threatened, or was something stolen or an attempt made to steal something that belonged to you (the respondent) or another household member? • Q46a: Now I’d like to ask about ALL acts of vandalism that may have been committed during the last 6 months against YOUR household. Vandalism is the deliberate, intentional damage to or destruction of household property. Examples are breaking windows, slashing tires, and painting graffiti on walls. Since [Specific Reference Date], has anyone intentionally damaged or destroyed property owned by you or someone else in your household? (EXCLUDE any damage done in conjunction with incidents already mentioned.) If “yes,” the respondent is asked a series of follow-ups, including the type of property van- dalized and whether the damage was more or less than $100, before the “How many times?” question. [The 2005 questionnaire also included a 7-part screening question re- garding hate crimes; answers of “yes” to particular queries in that screener

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166 SURVEYING VICTIMS resulted in the completion of a separate incident report, not the standard NCVS Incident Report.] Recognizing that the multiple-example structure of the screening ques- tions “may prompt some respondents to give you an answer before you fin- ish reading each subcategory,” Census Bureau interviewers are told that the bureau “would prefer that you finish reading each subcategory” before an answer and, “even if you get interrupted, you must read each and every subcategory in its entirety” (U.S. Census Bureau, 2003:A2-33). C–3.d Incident Report (NCVS-2) After the screening questions are complete and before a respondent is asked a set of questions about their employment, the NCVS interviewing protocol is to complete an Incident Report for each victimization incident counted by the screening questions. “For example, if a respondent said that his pocket was picked once and he was beaten up twice, three Crime Incident Reports, one for each separate incident, are completed” (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2007a:10). An important exception to the general rule of one Incident Report per incident is what the NCVS considers series victimizations, which is a set of incidents meeting three conditions (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2007a:11): (1) Incidents must be of the same type or very similar in detail (“similar” is not defined in any more explicit detail in either the instrument or the interviewer manual). (2) There must be at least 6 incidents in the series within the 6-month ref- erence period; this threshold was changed in 1993, prior to which 3 incidents could define a series. (3) The respondent must not be able to recall dates and other details of the individual incidents—that is, detail that would be sufficient to “complete most items” on the Incident Report (U.S. Census Bureau, 2003:C3-4) and that victimization types can be correctly coded—well enough to re- port them separately. The survey documentation further notes that “interviewers are instructed to try through probing to get individual reports whenever possible and only ac- cept series reports as a last resort” (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2007a:11). In cases in which all three conditions apply, the respondent is asked to complete the incident form by providing the details of only the most recent incident in the series. As of the paper questionnaire used in 2005, the NCVS-2 Incident Re- port included 173 numbered questions. However, the exact form of the interview and number of questions asked by the Incident Form varies based

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APPENDIX C 167 Table C-3 Number of Interviews Completed by NCVS Sample Households, 1995–1999 Number of N Completed Interviews Percentage 0 3,552 11.44 1 1,870 6.02 2 1,629 5.25 3 1,420 4.57 4 1,451 4.67 5 2,484 8.00 6 4,657 15.00 7 13,985 45.04 NOTES: Tabulations from special longitudinally linked file prepared by the U.S. Census Bureau, following 31,048 sample households (sample J19, rotations 2, 3, and 4) from first-time-in-sample through 7 enumeration periods (3.5 years). The file was created based on quarterly edited files from quarter 3, 1995, to quarter 4, 1999. Of the households, 4,265 (13.74 percent) were interviewed on both the first and seventh occasion, with some mix of interviews and noninterviews in periods 2–6. SOURCE: Demographic Surveys Division, U.S. Census Bureau (2007a:Table 2). on the information reported, as “skip sequences” in the questionnaire route the interview past sections that would be irrelevant based on the provided information. C–3.e Attrition in the NCVS Tabulations from a special longitudinally linked data file from the late 1990s (see Table C-3) suggest that just under half (45.04 percent) of house- holds in the NCVS sample complete the full set of seven interviews. C–4 SUPPLEMENTS TO THE NCVS Topical supplements that have been added to the NCVS have included (Demographic Surveys Division, U.S. Census Bureau, 2007a): • School Crime Supplement (1989, 1995, 1999, 2001, 2005, 2007), on school safety issues;

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168 SURVEYING VICTIMS • Police-Public Contact Survey (1996 pilot, 1999, 2002, 2005; planned for 2008), on the nature of contacts with the police; • National Survey of Crime Severity (1977), on public perceptions of crime severity; • Victim Risk Supplement (1984), on crime prevention measures taken by household respondents; • Workplace Risk Supplement (2002), on risk factors contributing to nonfatal violence in the workplace; • Supplemental Victimization Survey (2006), on stalking or harassing behavior; and • Identity Theft Supplement (planned for 2008), on the incidence and prevalence of identity theft. The Census Bureau (Demographic Surveys Division, U.S. Census Bureau, 2007b:51) notes that the National Center for Education Statistics “bears all costs” of the School Crime Supplement. The supplement contains questions on preventative measures employed by the school to deter crime; students’ participation in extracurricular activities; transportation to and from school; students’ perception of rules and equality in school; bullying and hate crime in school; the presence of street gangs in school; availability of drugs and alcohol in the school; attitudinal questions relating to the fear of victimization in school; access to firearms; and student characteristics such as grades received in school and postgraduate plans. Specifically, for the 2005 implementation of the supplement, “approximately 10,000 households containing approximately 11,600 respondents were el- igible for the supplement from January through June 2005.” The school crime questions were administered to all individual respondents in the sam- ple households who were between ages 12 and 18, “who were enrolled in primary or secondary education programs leading to a high school diploma, and who were enrolled in school sometime during the six months prior to the interview.” The School Crime Supplement is distinct from the Schools Survey on Crime and Safety, sponsored by the National Center for Education Statistics and conducted by the Census Bureau, which is a periodic, nation- ally representative cross-sectional survey of public elementary and secondary schools (administered to principals). Another example of an NCVS supplement, the Supplemental Victim- ization Survey, was conducted from January through June 2006 (with no current plans for repetition). It was sponsored by the Office of Violence Against Women of the U.S. Department of Justice. Of the 56,000 NCVS

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APPENDIX C 169 households in that year, “approximately 42,700 households containing ap- proximately 79,000 respondents were eligible for the supplement. The U.S. Census Bureau interviewers administered the supplemental interview to all people within these households who are 18 years of age or older and whose NCVS interview was conducted by self-response” (Demographic Surveys Di- vision, U.S. Census Bureau, 2007b:54).

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