By Ananda Shorey
WASHINGTON – Statistically speaking, broken hearts may be more prevalent than broken arms on Valentine’s Day.
Criminal experts say crimes of passion typically go down during the month of February, along with most other categories of crime.
While there is no direct link to Valentine’s Day — crime typically goes down in cold-weather months, anyway, they say — there are aspects of the day that make it less crime-inducing than other holidays.
“It would be marvelous to think that the only thing that was broken in February was a broken heart and not a fractured rib,” said Patricia Cushwa, chairwoman of the Maryland Parole Commission.
Cushwa and others said several attributes of Valentine’s Day could help explain the lower crime levels at this time of year.
A spokesman for the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services said most research shows the greatest increase in stress-related holiday crime comes during the Christmas season. Valentine’s Day does not generally induce such uncontrollable amounts of stress and anxiety, said the spokesman, Leonard Sipes.
Another factor in many crimes is alcohol. But, unlike other holidays, people do not tend to drink to excess on Valentine’s Day.
“Perhaps there is less crime on Valentine’s Day because it is not a holiday that has as much emphasis on celebration that includes liquor,” said Cushwa, noting that the day is typically marked with nothing more than a little bubbly.
And then there’s the love factor. Sipes said people tend to be in a more positive frame of mind around Valentine’s Day because it is focused on being peaceful and in-love.
But there are also pressures unique to Valentine’s Day.
Maryland State Police spokesman Pete Piringer noted that the holiday could increase stress in people who are cheating on their husbands or wives. Adulterers might have to face the pressure of having to budget time and money for gifts, he said, which could in turn could sway them into pursuing criminal activity.
“Stress management may not be enough in these types of situations,” Piringer said.
He also said that people who have addictions, such as cybersex stalkers, might use Valentine’s Day as an open door to start up conversations and seduce their victims.
“As with any crime there are usually opportunists,” Piringer said.
And Cushwa said that just because the number of reported crimes drops in February, it does not necessarily mean they are not happening. She said factors such as inclement weather could lead people to simply not report crimes.
“Even if domestic violence is happening, it might be more difficult to leave if you cannot get the car out of the garage due to bad weather,” Cushwa said. A woman who cannot escape an abusive situation is less likely to report it at that moment, she said.
Sipes said crimes on Valentine’s Day are more horrendous than if they happened any other time.
“Any man who assaults their wife or girlfriend on Valentine’s Day should get double the jail time,” Sipes said. “If there is one day where males have no business assaulting their loved ones it is on Valentine’s Day.”
Cushwa said she hopes Valentine’s Day is free of crime and full of tenderness — whatever the reason.
“Show your emotions with a valentine this year or with some expression of love, not hate,” she said.