New CDC report shows rate of homicide against AI/AN people

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WASHINGTON D.C. (ABC4)- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released figures which shed light on the issue of homicides against American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN). 

Data from the CDC’s National Violent Death Reporting System shows that out of a total 2,226 homicides of AI/AN in 34 states and the District of Columbia between 2003 and 2018:

  • The rate of homicide was three times higher in AI/AN males than females (12 versus 4 per 100,000)
  • Approximately half of victims lived (48%) or were killed (53%) in metropolitan areas
  • A firearm was used in nearly half (48%) of homicides
  • For female victims, 38% of suspects were current or former intimate partners

CDC Acting Principal Deputy Director Debra Houry said the release of the data regarding AI/AN homicides comes at a critical moment, especially in time to address what she calls “an urgent public health problem.”

“Our hope is that this report will help dispel common misperceptions about homicides among American Indian and Alaska Native persons,” Houry said. “Now we must use the data to support effective strategies to prevent homicide deaths among American Indian and Alaska Native persons.” 

Additional data from the report showed that suspects of AI/AN homicide:

  • Most (80%) were young adult males and 42% were age 18-34 years 
  • Nearly one-third (32%) were AI/AN 
  • Most knew their victims – over 60% of victims knew the suspect in their homicides

CDC National Center for Injury Prevention and Control acting director Christopher M. Jones says the data from the report “must guide” the work they do to prevent violence. 

“To stop violence in American Indian and Alaska Native people and communities before it starts, we need effective solutions that are culturally relevant, incorporate native traditions, and take into account the factors that impact violence for all American Indian and Alaska Native people,” Jones said.

According to the CDC report, one of the critical strategies for preventing interpersonal violence is teaching “safe and healthy relationship skills through social-emotional learning programs for youth” through culturally sensitive programs balanced with other programs that develop “positive attitudes about healthy masculinity, relationships, nonviolent problem solving, and being an active bystander.”

Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland said in September that the extensive news coverage surrounding the disappearance and death of 22-year-old Gabby Petito serves as a reminder of the number of Native American women and girls who are murdered or go missing in the U.S.

The National Institute of Justice reported in 2016 AI/AN has a high rate of victimization as well. Their data showed that almost 82% of Alaska Native men experienced violence in their lifetime. Out of that 82%, 27.5% experienced sexual violence, 43.2% experienced physical violence by an intimate partner, 18.6 percent experienced someone stalking them, and 73 percent experienced psychological aggression by an intimate partner. 

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