Violence hits ‘epidemic proportions’ in pandemic-era California, study shows

SAN DIEGO — The Golden State is losing its luster. A troubling new report labels physical and sexual violence in pandemic-era California a statewide “epidemic.” To put it simply, violence is on an alarming rise.

According to the new annual report from the California Study on Violence Experiences across the Lifespan (CalVEX), violence statistics have seen a significant increase since COVID-19 emerged. The report, conducted by scientists at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine, reports more than one in six Californians (18%) experienced either physical or sexual violence in just the past year. Meanwhile, one in every 25 Californians experienced intimate partner violence.

Overall, rates of both physical and sexual violence have seen an uptick since the COVID-19 pandemic began, with physical violence nearly doubling among men between 2020-2022. Study authors say demographic disparities in the results may provide further insight into potential contributing factors that could have been exacerbated during the pandemic.

“Californians are experiencing violence at epidemic proportions,” says principal investigator Anita Raj, PhD, professor at University of California San Diego School of Medicine and Division of Social Sciences, in a press release. “Current violence prevention efforts are clearly woefully inadequate and often ignore the gendered nature of violence, its intersections with other socioeconomic vulnerabilities and its disproportionate effects on marginalized populations.”

How was violence that wasn’t reported measured?

Violence often happens behind closed doors, and most victims never formally report their experiences. It’s why study authors admit relying on criminal justice data or health records to analyze violence almost always fails to account for the “full picture.” In pursuit of stronger data, CalVEX surveyed a representative sample of adults across California, and then uses those responses to estimate population rates. The dataset used in this latest report was collected in March 2022 from 2,285 adults.

The annual CalVEX survey
The annual CalVEX survey measures rates of physical, sexual and intimate partner violence among Californians. (Credit: UC San Diego Health Sciences)

Importantly, the report also describes numerous gender disparities when it comes to experiencing and perpetrating violence. Men are more likely than women to have dealt with physical violence, while women are more likely than men to have experienced various forms of sexual violence. In just the past year, over 1.5 million adults in California have admitted to committing an act of sexual violence. Men were deemed more than two times as likely as women to report committing an act of sexual violence and intimate partner violence.

Moreover, women also deal with more mental health consequences and life disruptions in the wake of violent experiences. Over four in five women (82%) report experiencing anxiety or depression due to physically aggressive, coercive, or forced sexual behavior. Women who have experienced physical violence are also twice as likely as men to miss work, miss school, or change/quit a job.

California violence wave linked to pandemic, economy

The report also notes that both socially and economically vulnerable Californians, such as Latino and Black communities, LGBTQ communities, people with a history of homelessness or incarceration, or people living with a disability, experience more violence than other residents. Experiencing financial distress, like facing eviction or food insecurity, is linked to a two to eight times increased risk of violence.

“Our findings suggest the rising rates of violence are linked to the harsher social climate, economic insecurity, and poorer physical and mental health that many Californians have experienced over the last few years due to the pandemic,” Dr. Raj adds.

The research team recommends new policies be put in place strengthening social and economic safety nets, programs in violence prevention, and mental health services across the state of California. A multi-level approach like that, if performed correctly, could both address the current violence crisis and support post-pandemic rebuilding.

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John Anderer

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  1. The beginning of the end of the Golden State came in 1975 when feckless whimsical Jesuit Jerry Brown aka Governor Moonbeam came into office interfering with road construction, the life blood of California. On going construction stopped, future construction scrapped all in the name of protecting the environment. Today Frisco Bay tantamount to an open sewer, violence knocking on every door and a Brown clone named Gavin Newsom driving the last nail in the coffin.

    1. The problem with roads, is that you have to maintain them.

      People never think about that, because people aren’t very bright.

    2. Setting the record straight: Governor Brown acquired the nickname Moonbeam because he had proposed that California launch a satellite to provide emergency communications for the state. A very common sense idea. It was Jerry’s girlfriend, Linda Ronstadt who kiddingly mentioned moonbeam to Mike Royko who was a columnist at the Chicago Tribune.
      “Frisco” is a suburb of Dallas – Fort Worth. While there is a fishing pond there I would hardly call it a bay.

  2. California voters… keep voting Democrat. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

  3. Why is this a surprise?

    There is unfettered illegal immigration into the state and it’s a “sanctuary” state as well.

    Look at the incessant violent crime in Mexico and other countries to the south of the border, e.g., Guatemala, Salvador, Honduras, Brazil, etc.

    It should be no surprise that violent crime spills over into everyday life in California.

  4. California is perfect and the people there are content. The election to recall Gavin Newsom failed because there is nothing wrong with California and Newsom’s leadership is appreciated by all.

    1. I don’t feel one bit sorry for the radical increase in crime inside California, they had ample opportunity to turn things around and chose not to. Let those tards stew in their own swill

    2. “California is perfect”

      California is the perfect destination for America’s homeless.
      It’s nice and warm, and they don’t have to freeze to death while other Americans ignore them in winter.

  5. Cali is insane. There’s an axe man who destroyed a fruit cart run by illegal aliens and he was charged by the police even though he was abating a nuisance. Swing that axe, Axe Man, swing away!

  6. This is what happens when you start turning a blind eye to petty criminal act and it leads to more serious criminal acts. Now if you come over to Florida, Texas, Oklahoma, Tennessee you don’t have these types of problems, why, because the elected sheriffs in these states do not put up with it.

    1. How much more in taxes are you willing to pay for not turning a blind eye to petty criminal acts?

      It is costly to track down, arrest, imprison, guard and feed criminals.

      Perhaps there is a better option.

      What do you think that could be?

      1. So is throwing $100+ billion at a high speed train project that is still a decade away from completion and that price tag keeps going up. That money could be better better served addressing homeless and crime problems, much are a result of the policies in CA. Yes there is good weather, but many homeless receive a check from the state yet stay homeless with no attempt to find a job or housing. Why? Because that’s how many of them want it. There are quite a few encampments within 5 miles of where I live. I have talked to many people from these encampments. 40% of the people I’ve spoken to are choosing to stay homeless rather than work multiple jobs to afford housing in CA. You can defend them all you want, but California’s high taxes and failed policies that you see to rave about are much of the reason for the high cost of living and a 30% poverty rate. And yes, CA has the 5th largest economy in the world. However, our state government can’t afford to help its own residents? Instead of spending my tax dollars to do all the political grandstanding, spend it improving the lives of those in the state. All these priveledged people in CA want to blow up social media about social injustice, help the homeless, etc. while rolling down the road in their Range Rover and living in gated communities. They talk the talk, but then expect someone else to solve the problem. Get off your high horse and help solve problem. This goes to you too Vendicar. CA has been a Democrat super-majority for over a decade, yet crime, homelessness, drug use, etc continues to escalate. Sure sounds like successful policies in action to me!

  7. The analysis is so incredibly incomplete. Divorce, single parent households, and what used to be called illegitimacy is never mentioned. Such incredible bias. The phenomena of children begetting children isn’t even considered. What such a biased diagnosis, the result of such a study might cause more chaos than there is already.

  8. This has got to be the laziest reporting I’ve seen lately. I’m not even from CA but I know this is all bogus. More people = more violence. Period. If PEOPLE are living in a state, some will be shitty to others….it’s easy math.

  9. Maybe the solution is less government programs and more attention to creating a robust private sector with more wealth being created instead of drained from the creators to fund yet another bureaucratic government program.

  10. Ask yourself , why the rich are leaving or fencin5in in this shitehole? And then get out or vote conservative. NOT REAL HARD.

  11. The report says nothing of “LGBTQ communities.” Just go ahead and insert your agenda points why don’t you? Disgraceful.

  12. I got attacked by a vagrant with a club and got 12 stitches right across my forehead. Fun times…

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