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N.H. One Of Nation's Safest States, With A Caveat

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The rate of violent crime continues to fall in the U.S. and in New Hampshire, according to FBI statistics released this week.

The new numbers put New Hampshire as the third-safest state in the country, after Vermont and Maine. New Hampshire's rate of "violent crime"- a broad category that includes burglary, aggravated assault, rape, and murder - is 198.7 per 100,000 people.

But there is a caveat: the rate of reported rape in New Hampshire is 49.4 per 100,000 people. That is higher than the national average, and in Manchester, the rate is more than twice the national average.

According to Cesar Rebellon, a sociologist at the University of New Hampshire, New Hampshire has skewed high for reported rape for many years, but researchers still aren't sure what this reflects: a culture of sexual assault, or a culture of accurate reporting.

“What might be going on is not that so much that the behavior of sexual assault is taking place itself at a higher rate within New Hampshire," he says, "But that more people who are victimized within the state of New Hampshire are likely to report."

Overall, the murder rate in New Hampshire is one of the country’s lowests. The murder rate is also low in Manchester, a city that generally has a higher rate of violent crime than many large American cities.

Sarah Gibson joined NHPR's newsroom in 2018. She reports on education and demographics.
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