1 in 3 Trinis are victims of violent crime, says IDB study
One in three Trinbagonians has been a victim of violent crime, while one in three citizens has seen someone close to them become a victim of violent crime.
This according to a study by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) study which conducted a survey of 3,000 Trinidad and Tobago citizens as part of a recent study on crime in five Caribbean countries.
The study, Restoring Paradise in the Caribbean: Combatting Violence with Numbers, is based on the results of new crime victimisation surveys carried out in The Bahamas, Barbados, Jamaica, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago.
Approximately one in three, or 32.3 percent of respondents said they were victims of violent crimes such as car theft, burglary, robbery, personal theft, and assaults and threats of assaults.
Respondents were also asked if they have, in their lifetime, “ever witnessed a serious attack, shooting, or beating in which another person was badly injured or killed?” Among the national-level samples, one in four (25.7 percent) had witnessed such an attack.
This rate increased to one in three (30.2 percent) among residents of capital city metropolitan areas.
"This information should be interpreted with caution given the small size of Caribbean countries. Nevertheless, the implications are staggering,” the report said.
A high proportion of victims also said they were attacked by people they know, often in their homes or neighbourhood.
“The victimization surveys help us understand how crime affects populations, particularly those who are most vulnerable,” said Ana María Rodríguez, the manager of the IDB’s Department of Institutions for Development.
“Notably, women and youth were found to be less likely to report violent crimes to the police. These surveys help direct prevention efforts to those who need them the most.”
With almost half of all crimes going unreported to the police, these victimization surveys provide a fuller picture of the prevalence of crime and its unique characteristics when compared to other regions.
The study adds that a special area of concern is violence against women and young children, considering that early experiences of violence in the home is also a strong predictor of later perpetration.
The study finds that one in three Caribbean adults approve of or are sympathetic to wife beating if the woman is unfaithful, which is higher than in the United States or Latin America.
“We found that tolerance of violence against women and children is higher than comparable regions,” said Heather Sutton, the report’s lead researcher and coordinator.
“The literature shows that high tolerance is predictive of high levels of actual violence. This is one important risk factor that perpetuates the cycle of violence and delinquency.”
The Caribbean crime victimization surveys – by bringing light on crime with data that leads to better and more effective policies – are part of a continuing effort by the IDB to provide more knowledge and operational support to help countries in the region prevent crime and violence.
The report was launched at an event in the Inter-American Dialogue, in Washington.