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Background on Victimization Newer Focus on Criminology (1970s) Motivated by: 1.Concerns about accuracy (validity) of traditional sources of data. 2.Influence.

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Presentation on theme: "Background on Victimization Newer Focus on Criminology (1970s) Motivated by: 1.Concerns about accuracy (validity) of traditional sources of data. 2.Influence."— Presentation transcript:

1 Background on Victimization Newer Focus on Criminology (1970s) Motivated by: 1.Concerns about accuracy (validity) of traditional sources of data. 2.Influence of Humanistic (including feminist) viewpoints *Important to consider victims experiences – the first 200 years of criminology was focused solely on offenders.

2 Dark Figure Cont.

3 Dark Figure of Crime

4 Background on Victimization National Criminal Victimization Survey (NCVS) Representative snapshot of victimization Survey Design:-Multistage Sample Design -90% Response Rate -77,000 Households (134,000 Rs) Nature and Extent of Crime based on NCVS 23.4 million victimizations (2005) ~2 times the # of serious crimes as found by police data Problems with NCVS? Ignores victimless crime Reporting problems - (too much/little due to memory; embarrassment. e.g. Sexual assault)

5 Background on Victimization NCVS as a research tool Personal victimization data Provides information about the characteristics of victims – allows for group comparisons For personal crimes –May provide info about offender, V/O relationship, etc. Info usually absent from police data (except arrests) Household victimization Provides info about crimes against property Reporting practices Why people (fail to) report victimizations Ways that research is conducted affects data quality

6 Reporting Practices

7 Reporting Practices Cont.

8 Background on Victimization Chances (Risk) of Victimization vary by: Gender Race Age Income (SES) Victim-Offender relationship

9 Background on Victimization Gender Males more likely to be victims of crime –except sexual assault and rape –Black men more at risk –Young men (lt 24) at greater risk –Men likely to be victims of violence by strangers Women likely to be victims of violence by acquaintances 2003 Violent Victimization (rate per 1,000): Male = 25.9 Female =19.9 –Public/Private Spheres of victimization –Importance of victim/offender relationship –Inter vs. Intra group character of violence –Significance of data source in documenting victimization

10 Background on Victimization Race is among the most powerful predictors of violent victimization risk. Black Males have much greater risk of being victims of assault, robbery and homicide than others Reasons? Opportunity Structure of African Americans: Residential Segregation

11 Background on Victimization Age Youth more likely to be victims of crime; Risk of victimization declines with age (negative relationship) Lifestyles of Youth: School; Other activities Income Less affluent more likely to be victims of violent crime (Negative relationship) Consistent Pattern across gender, age, race groups Instrumental vs. Expressive Crime

12 Background on Victimization Issues – Intersection of gender, race, class & age Consequences of Victimization? –Loss or Cost of personal victimization –Emotional Suffering –Fear –Antisocial Behavior Reciprocal nature of offending, victimization, & contact with the CJS)

13 Cultural Imagery of Crime Victims The victimization of women is a new social problem – concepts such as … Domestic abuse Spousal assault Sexual harassment Date rape Stalking All are very new concepts - only developed in the last years or less.

14 Cultural Imagery of Crime Victims Historical Progression: 1) Nonsexual child abuse, 2) Rape by strangers, 3) Nonsexual wife abuse, 4) Sexual abuse of children 5) Sexual wife abuse Social awareness of women’s victimization experiences is increasing. “Discovery” of such crimes is good politically and helps researchers/policy-makers address the problem.

15 Cultural Imagery of Female Victims Social meanings of womanhood and femininity condone violence towards ♀ by ♂ Social understanding of women’s victimization also relies on a number of myths 1.Rarity of victimization 2.Fault lies with the victim (♀) 3.Victimization is a shameful event

16 Danger as an orienting concept (Stanko) Danger – Peril, uncertainty, risk & threat –Anxiety about crime is part of modern condition –We live in a Risk society Characteristics of risk society –Technology and surveillance –Information used to evaluate relative risk –Accuracy of risk assessments (parole boards) –We judge people based upon their competence to assess risk accurately – ties to BLAME –Consequence – crime victims are expected to act as if they have control over criminal danger

17 Danger as an orienting concept (Stanko) ♀ Offenders –Treated as dangerous b/c they threaten traditional conceptions about ♀’s place in society and passivity Scourge of violent women - Mythical (“See Jane Hit”) Criminal & violent women are “feminist” (simply b/c they do not conform to female “roles”) Violent/dp/ /sr=8- 1/qid= /ref=pd_bbs_1/ ?ie=UTF8&s=bookshttp://www.amazon.com/See-Jane-Hit-Growing- Violent/dp/ /sr=8- 1/qid= /ref=pd_bbs_1/ ?ie=UTF8&s=books ♀ Victims –Violence is framed as something we experience at the hands of “Beasts” –Reality of victimization is that most of it perpetrated by “Nice Guys”

18 Fear of Crime What is the connection between risk of victimization and fear of being a victim? Criminologists have emphasized the “irrationality” of fear? Paradox of Fear: Those most fearful supposedly have the least amount of risk (♀ & elderly) NCVS shows ♀ experienced 1/3 of all violent victimizations – somewhat lower risk than similar ♂ Yet ♀ are typically 3 times as fearful of crime as men

19 Fear of Crime Paradox of Fear: Those most fearful supposedly have the least amount of risk (♀ & elderly) Why? 1.Awareness of extent and frequency of ♀ victimization risk is recent or non-existent 2.Nature of ♀ victimization is qualitatively different 1.Fear of crime is really fear of rape Problems with this – minimizes other types of violence (Assault, stalking, harassment, etc.) 2.Most fear is directed toward public sphere threats, though most violence is in the private sphere 3.Culture encourages ♀ to be fearful: it is part of doing gender the socially approved way

20 Fear, Doing Gender & Victimization Girls/women are expected to be fearful Fear is understood as healthy for women –How? –NS commentary –Risk-reduction strategies – issues from a fairness perspective? (Stanko R&G2) –Female accountability is greater than male accountability for predatory male behavior Fear is hegemonic for women What is the media role in this? All of these questions are consistent with Karmen’s Victim-Blaming approach –Kinds of women approach –Reassuring to most people b/c it limits responsibility to the victim

21 Female Victimization Karmen’s Frameworks Continued… –Kinds of men approach: Offender Blaming (what many assume is the focus of feminism – to blame men) A more effective feminist approach is to Defend Victims Focused on questions of Social Justice –Date Rape, Battering –Institutional Framework (Sociological) Victims and Offenders & their patterns of interaction are products of institutional patterns (Economy, Family, Educ, Gov’t, etc.) Criminal Justice responses are largely ineffective in addressing ♀ victimization »Assume individual responsibility as key – victim or offender blaming »No concern with hetero-patriarchal environment that produces new exploitive/abusive men each year

22 Gender & Victimization Summary: Threat of Violence (Danger) –Vulnerability as a bedrock of gender relations –Perceptions of power encourage acts of sexual violence –Results in restricted freedom for potential targets of sexual violence. Women are constrained in their activities, routines, etc.

23 Gender & Victimization Power and Victimization –Gender inequality increases the volume of violence towards women –Pattern is evident historically and cross-culturally –Brownmiller (1975): Rape is a means of control of women by men. Rape causes increased inequality –Russell (1984): Rape is an outcome of inequality –Belknap: Proposes a Cycle of female victimization & gender inequality (reciprocality, p. 213) –Rape and other acts of crime are expressions of socially- given gender power

24 Gender & Victimization Do sex-workers deserve to be sexually victimized by ♂? –Our culture wrongly holds women accountable for their own victimization –Premised on a variety of cultural scripts that define appropriate feminine behavior –Violations of appropriate displays of doing gender provide the basis for victim-blaming –Yet appropriate enactment of femininity relies upon inequality as well (and thus encourages gendered violence)

25 Images of Female Victims Tends to privilege certain women: –white, middle class Legacy of victimization shows that racial minority women and others are more vulnerable in the past & today –Slavery/Jim Crow (Legalized Racism) & Rape in US history –Natalee Holloway


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