Introducing the Societal Violence Scale (SVS)

The Political Terror Scale (PTS) measures levels of physical integrity violations by the state. However, human insecurity is also the result of violence carried out by non-state actors. The Societal Violence Scale (SVS) provides an ordinal measure of non-state violence based on the accounts contained in the annual U.S. State Department reports. The SVS breaks non-state violence into 3 perpetrator groups and 14 vulnerable populations, as follows:

Perpetrator Groups:
  • Individuals or ad hoc groups
  • Corporate actors organized for private profit
  • Organized, armed groups for group benefits
  • Women
  • Children
  • National/Ethnic/ and Racial groups
  • Religious and Sectarian groups
  • Refugees and Asylum Seekers
  • Sexual Minorities
  • Forced Labor
  • Labor Activists
  • Human Rights Defenders
  • Humanitarian Workers
  • Journalists
  • State Actors
  • Civilians in Civil Conflict
  • Others

The initial release (for State Department reports covering events of 2013), the SVS only provides a country’s overall aggregate score, although in subsequent years there will be disaggregated data for each perpetrator and for each victim group. The five levels comprising the SVS aggregate scores are as follows:

Societal Violence Scale Levels
Level Interpretation
W3Schools Societal violence is limited in scope and severity, with relatively few victims and few perpetrators.
W3Schools Societal violence is a problem, affecting a significant number of victims, albeit across few victim categories and is less severe in nature.
W3Schools Societal violence is widespread and severe in nature. It affects a significant number of people across several victim categories.
W3Schools Societal violence is pervasive and severe, affecting a large proportion of the population typically across several victim categories and perpetrators.
W3Schools Societal violence is ubiquitous in scope and egregious in nature. If affects a large proportion of the population, crossing numerous victim categories and all categories of perpetrators.

For a more detailed discussion navigate here: The SVS Explained.