Stranger Violence Stranger violence occurs when an offender attacks a victim that they do not know (not part of their family, not a friend or co-worker, and not an acquaintance of any kind). Stranger violence is less common than violence suffered at the hands of friends, family, and acquaintances.
Stranger Danger As a result of the medias portrayal of crime, there is a false belief held by some that strangers represent the greatest danger to our personal safety. It is not just the public who are at risk of being biased and forming preconceptions; investigators and other criminal justice professionals can also be influenced.
Media Distortion of Public Perception Overall perceptions about crime and related trends come primarily from one source: the media. There is a relationship between the media and public fear. The more fear a story evokes in the viewership or readership, the more marketable. Stranger crime represents the ultimate fear of the unknown.
Media Distortion of Public Perception Chermak (1995) argued that the staff of news organizations assessed newsworthiness of a crime occurrence on the basis of five criteria: 1.The violent or heinous nature of the offense 2.Demographic factors of the victim and offender 3.Characteristics of the incident producers (the news agency) 4.The uniqueness of the event 5.Event salience
Media Distortion of Public Perception Prichard and Hughes (1997) argued that additional factors included how unusual the criminal event was relative to characteristics of more typically occurring offenses, the qualities of the parties involves, and the extent to which the behavior violated formally and informally established cultural norms and expectations.
Media Distortion of Public Perception Practicing journalists have also acknowledged that there are certain criteria that are used to judge the marketability of crime news events – Doyle criteria. According to Pat Doyle, a human interest story is one that either: 1.Involves a socially prominent or respectable citizen who is involved as either an offender or as a victim; 2.The victim is an innocent or an overmatched target; 3.The murder was either shocking or brutal, involving multiple victims and/or offenders, or in which a particular brutal method of killing was employed; or 4.The narrative generates mystery, suspense, or drama.
Nomothetic Analysis The following statistics were found by Harrell (2012): Nonfatal Violence Strangers accounted for about 38% of all nonfatal violence in 2010. Simple assault made up the majority (60%), followed by aggravated assault (20%), robbery (17%), and rape or sexual assault (2%). Between 2005-2012, more than half of reported robberies were committed by strangers
Nomothetic Analysis Homicidal Violence From 1993-2008, among homicides reported to the FBI for which the victim-offender relationship was known, approx. 25% of homicides were committed by strangers. Between 2005-2008, approx. 43% of stranger homicides occurred in the commission of a robbery, or during an argument. Crime Scene Between 2005-2012, more than half of stranger victimizations occurred in public places.
Idiographic Analysis Every offender has a particular victim or target criteria that satisfies their needs. An offender may target a stranger for the following reasons: To avoid detection (precautionary offenders) – these offenders select victims that they dont know, locations where they dont frequent, and circumstances that will be less likely to result in their later identification and apprehension. Opportunity (convenience offenders) – these offenders choose their victims based on proximity.
Idiographic Analysis There are essentially three kinds of targets: primary, secondary, and collateral. Primary target: One that is of the greatest importance to the offender. It dictates the location and timing of an attack. In cases of stranger violence, the targeting of primary victims is dictated by what the offender wants from them, and whether the attack is planned or unplanned. If planned, they go where their preferred victim type can be found; if unplanned, the target those in their immediate environment.
Idiographic Analysis Secondary target: One that is of lesser importance to the offender. It will not dictate the location and timing of the attack. However, it will be a conscious choice based on the availability within environmental and temporal constraints dictated by primary targets. In cases of stranger violence, secondary targets will be those who are incidentally discovered with the primary target. They are targets of opportunity.
Idiographic Analysis Collateral victims: One that is attacked and injured unintentionally, because of their proximity to a primary or secondary target within a given environment. In cases of stranger violence, collateral victims will be hit because they are in the way. Collateral stranger victims are unique because they may be harmed in the course of non-stranger violence.
Motivation The motivations involved with stranger violence differ from those related to intimate violence only in that they tend to be intrinsic rather than extrinsic. The motives come from within the offender and the victim is selected because they can satisfy the motive at reduced risk, or because they are convenient when the motive engages.
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