Chapter 7: violent offending: General violence and Homicide
Defining Aggression and Violence
Human aggression has been defined as “any behavior directed towards
another individual that is carried out with the immediate intent to cause
Violence has been defined as “aggression that has extreme harm as its goal
Prevalence of Violence
Violent crime account for approximately one in eight criminal incidents in
Robbery is often considered a violent offence because it involves at the very
least an implied threat of violence.
Of all Canadian provinces, PEI had the lowest rate of robbery in 2007 and
Manitoba had the highest.
Violent crime by youth (aged 12-17) has increased fairly steadily over the
past 20 years.
General Social Survey (GSS) on Victimization: reflects reports from the
Canadian population aged 15 and older on their criminal victimization.
The reporting rates were highest for robbery, followed by physical assaults
and sexual assaults.
Men were more likely to experience non-sexual violence than women,
whereas women were more likely to experience sexual violence than men.
Excluding spousal violence, approximately half of violent crimes reported
were committed by someone known to the victim (ex: friend, acquaintance).
Some characteristics associated with higher rates of violent victimization are
being young, being single, often going out in the evening, and living in cities.
Violent victimization was considerably higher among 15-24 year old than
older people in Canada.
Hostile versus Instrumental Violence
Hostile Aggression: is an impulsive reaction to some real or perceived
provocation or threat.
o Example: an example is when a man who comes home early from
work to find his wife in bed with another man, flies into a rage, and
assaults the other man.
Instrumental aggression: which is premeditated and aimed at achieving
some secondary goal. o Example: a man plans to rob another man leaving a bank. He demands
the victim’s wallet. The victim refuses and the robber pushes him
against a wall and punches him in the head and stomach a few times,
again ordering him to hand over the wallet. Once he has the wallet, he
leaves the victim alone.
Social Learning Theory
Theory of crime that suggests that people commit crime not only as a result
of direct reinforcement for criminal behavior through a process of operant
condition but also through vicarious reinforcement by observing others
being rewarded for their criminal behavior.
Reinforcement increases the likelihood that a given behavior will occur,
whereas punishment decreased the likelihood of its occurrence.
Bandura argues that people learn not only from direct experience, but also
from observing the behavior of others and the outcomes of others’ behavior.
General Aggression Model (GAM)
GAM is an integration of a number of smaller, more specific theories of
Shown in Figure 7.6 (pg:211) the GAM describes the processes involved in
any one episode among an ongoing series of episodes of a social encounter.
Unstructured clinical judgment: involves arriving at an estimate of risk
based on the assessor’s own idiosyncratic decisions about what factors to
consider and how to combine these factors.
Empirical actuarial instruments: the selection and combination of items
are derived from their observed statistical relationship with recidivism. And
tables liking scores to expected recidivism rates are provided
Mechanical instruments: the selection and combination of items are
derived from theory or reviews of the empirical literature and no tables are
Structured professional judgment: incorporates features of both
unstructured clinical judgment and actuarial approach.
Violence Risk Appraisal Guide (VRAG) VRAG: is an empirical actuarial risk-assessment instrument designed to
estimate risk for violent recidivism.
HCR- 20 Violence Risk Assessment Scheme
HCR-20: is a structured professional judgment instrument designed to
assess risk for violence.
Consists of ten historical items, five clinical items, and five risk management
The historical items, which are static and reflect the past, include previous
violence, young age at first violent incident, relationship instability,
employment problems, major mental illness, psychopathy, early
maladjustment, personality disorder, and prior supervision failure.
The clinical items, which are dynamic and reflect current functioning, include
lack of insight, negative attitudes, active symptoms of major mental illness,
impulsivity, and unresponsive to treatment.
The risk management items, which concern future circumstances that may be
encountered in the institution or community that could increase or decrease
risk, include feasibility of plans, exposure to destabilizers, lack of persona
support, and stress.
Self- Appraisal Questionnaire (SAQ)
SAQ: is a self report empirical actuarial risk-assessment instrument
developed to estimate risk of violent and non-violent recidivism.
The SAQ consists of 67 self-report items that are grouped into 6 subscale