Many people don’t think Massachusetts is more violent than New York, New Jersey or even Pennsylvania. A new report found otherwise.

While violent crime rose less than 1 percent last year over 2008, Massachusetts maintained its title of most-violent state in the Northeast — a distinction the Commonwealth has held since at least 2006, FBI stats indicate.

“We have to keep in mind it’s per capita and we are a smaller state,” said Susan Servais, executive director of the Massachusetts Health Council, which released the biennial report.

A spokeswoman for Gov. Deval Patrick hadn’t reviewed the report but noted the state leads the nation in education, health care and job creation.

“The Governor is committed to working with law enforcement officials and community groups to keep our streets safe and neighborhoods strong so that Massachusetts can lead the nation in public safety as well,” she said.

One disturbing statistic in the report: Boston experienced a 27 percent increase in rape and attempted rape from 2008 to 2009. Forcible rape across Massachusetts fell 3.2 percent over that same time.

The report did give Boston credit for its efforts to reduce violence.

A bitter pill

The report also measured poverty, education, air pollution/asthma, tobacco use, obesity and alcohol abuse and found a growing shortage of primary care doctors.

“Each and every [indicator] costs the health care system and is preventable,” Servais said. “That is the key to this report, that’s what it’s about: prevention.”

In January, the state legislature will implement a Prevention Caucus to curb public health problems.

“Certainly we need to do more,” Servais said.

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