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SOC 201
Ingrid L.Stefanovic

Victimology How do we think about victims? -there are many ways that vitims are considered in societies (blameless) -victims of disease: is at no fault of the victim usually (although some effort is often made to place some responsibility on the victim) -‘blame the victim’: a way society thinks of victims -victims of natural disaster: it’s very hard to rationalize any type of blame for a natural disaster -victims of negligence: the collective mind of society doesn’t blame the victims, it didn’t have to happen -victims of State Persecution and War: there are victims but someone else is responsible -victims of criminal behaviours: devastating to victims, a complex debate about who is to blame, ‘did you leave your valuable’s unlocked?’ -victims of resource exploitation (the alberta tar sands): lives have been changed because of chemicals polluting the land of the first nations -victimized by being wrongfully convicted -victims of bullying -victims of fraud: identity theft over facebook is very common, elderly people are a targeted group (‘Grandparent Scam’) Blaming the Victim: there is often consensus in societies to consider that there are some categories of victims in which there may be a tendency to assume that the victims must accept some degree of responsibility -debate over if it’s the fault of the victim or not -sometimes we expect victims to take on some of the responsibility Clarifying the term ‘victim’ Victim: the criminal code of Canada basically considers someone a victim if he has been a victim o an offence under the Act (2007) -criminals aren’t determined a criminal under they have been convicted, so are you a victim before a crime has been convicted? -this means that a person injured or killed as a consequence of an impaired driver would be considered a victim -limited and constrained way to think about what a victim is (too limited for social sciences) Victim: refers to one who is killed, injured, or otherwise harmed by another (used by the text) -very open definition -includes victims of natural disaster, bullying, or other reasons -victimology: is the study of victims and the social context in which they exist, a branch off of criminology -criminology: is the study of crime is basically offender focused, studies the actual crimes, different focus area -victimology is the study of the other side of the story, the study of the victims -when victimologists study crimes, they look at the victim’s perspective and their life (what do you experience) Victim Advocacy Groups: used to address the issues of victims, practical needs addressed by volunteers -quite often victims don’t know who to go to, and police services aren’t set up to address victims -these groups help victims work through this process of ‘what to do next’ -new groups are emerging out of provinces and being made into legislature King Henry II of England and Common Law: radical thinker of his time, began to create a new idea about the individuals role in society and the role of the state -the historical relationships of vitims and offenders set the responsibility for retribution on the victim (all up to you to remedy the injustice) -the victim took a centre place role, because the offence violated the victim -the commission of the offence violated ‘nature’, left things unbalanced -it was necessary to accomplish a degree of retribution to re-establish balance in the society (in such a small community there was a huge amount of upset) Emergence of a Formalized System of Law: judges were appointed to handle the more complex cases -retribution became more of the responsibility of the community (shift from the victim and their family to the community to bring back the balance) -victims participated in reaching judgement against the offender -an offence against the ‘community’ -punishments became more focused on deterrence as well as retribution -punishment and laws became more formalized -along with restoring the balance of the community -the punishment had to be such that no potential gain could be realized by the offender -gradually formalized laws emerged -serious offences were less as violations against a person, but violations against the formalized law -the victim is slowly being forgotten about Where are we now? -our tradition is the Common Law System from the English legal system -the modern version of this system has become more rationalistic and less focused on the victim -the focus has become on the offender -our modern system of justice is aimed at protecting citizens from crime Offences and the State: in modern societies based on the English Common Law System, an offence is against the state, not the victim -in the case of Canada, the state is the ‘Crown’, when you’re convicted it’s against the Crown, and the Crown attorney prosecutes you -the state must be protected -victims become witnesses whose responsibility rests in ensuring a conviction of the offender Criminal Victimization in Canada 2009 -victimization rates are higher in western canada for both violent and household crimes (Manitoba and Sask.) possibly due to higher first nations populations -most often resulted in anger and frustration -reasons for not reporting a crime are mostly not important enough, and police couldn’t do anything about it Are there victims less worthy of society’s concern? -Robert Picton’s victims: serial killer that aimed for aboriginal prostitutes -because they were aboriginal prostitutes, lead to answers as to why the police didn’t do anything -criticism of the vancouver police department, RCMP blame each other over picton -families would report missing girls and the police didn’t do much, nothing was done -Picton was investigated for other things, but they never realized anything was going on, the police were accused of being incompetant -both have offered apologies for not doing more, but neither will accept blame, the vancouver police insist that the fault lies at the feet of the RCMP, whiel the mounties argue the opposite -Picton had murdered approx 49 woman, killed and remains of 33 are on his farms -police department pretty much just didn’t take it seriously -VPD made an official apology -are there different types of victims, worthy of different kinds of attention? Homeless: adults and run away children who are homeless are often the victims of crime -many people see these as invisible, a lower level of victim -don’t seem to get the same degree of public sympathy -homeless youth are subject to being recruited for prostitution and vulnerable to illegal drug addiction -they are also more at risk to become engaged in criminal behaviours, emmersed into a culture of crime (consequence for drug addiction) Patients and the Elderly -fact
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