Chapter Four: Victims and Victimization

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University of Toronto St. George
Woodsworth College Courses
Scot Wortley

1 Chapter 4: Victims and Victimization - victims viewed as the passive receptors of a criminals anger, greed or frustration - wrong place at the wrong time - victimology: the study of a victims role in a criminal transaction Problems of Crime Victims: Loss and Suffering - Insurance Bureau of Canada says that auto theft accounts for 13 percent of all property crime in Canada - Productivity losses due to injury, medical costs, psychological pain, and emotional trauma also take their toll - Crime makes people feel unsafe and decreases their quality of life - Victims may suffer serious physical injury requiring medical treatment - May suffer more victimization at the hands of the justice system - Subjected to insensitive questioning by the police (innuendos, suspicion that the victims were somehow at fault) - Victims property may never be recovered (spends along time as evidence in court) - Spousal abuse: victims suffer an extremely high prevalence of depression, posttraumatic stress disorder, anxiety disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder - Virtually every victim experiences an emotional reaction and up to a third of robbery victims suffer severe short-term trauma - After 6 months: effects diminish, 5-10% of victims continue to suffer significant psychopathology - Male victims of violent attacks: suffer post-crime stress disorders - View selves as weak and helpless - More likely to externalize blame and express anger towards their attackers - Female victims: internalize and blame themselves - Victims are more likely than non-victims to think that crime rates have increased - Pain and suffering experienced by crime victims does not stop after the criminal incident is over - Hate crimes: more likely to involve excessive violence and greater psychological trauma - 7x more likely: directed against a person than are crimes in which hate isnt the motivating factor - 2x more likely to involve physical injury and four times as likely to require hospitalization The Perception of the Risk of Being a Victim Pg.102 - National surveys: peoples fears of victimization outstrip their actual likelihood of experiencing a crime - Public overestimates the likelihood of crime, despite contradictory evidence from their own experience (influence of extraneous factors of publics knowledge) - Dekeseredy & colleagues: prior victimization is negligible factor in womens fear of crime - Fear is widespread: 2003 poll in Toronto found that 43% of people are very concerned about child abductions 42% about drugs and dealers, 36% about sexual assault 24% about police chases - Fears = exaggerated, grounded in experience, in modern society it is the media which helps create a distorted expectation of victimization - Canadas murder rate has declined 4 years in a row; television increased media coverage on homicide - 16% of the murders in 1995 were unknown to the victim; 83% of murders are committed by spouse or acquaintance, 54% of CBC and 66% of CTW coverage focused on random murders - Builds a fear of being attacked at a random - Conscious of how crime on demands for police services, publics perception of the courts and how politicians develop programs to prevent and fight crime Problems of Crime Victims: Antisocial Behaviour - Victims of a certain crimes are more likely to commit crime themselves - Odds of adult arrest were 39% greater for maltreated adolescents than for non-abused ones 2 - Cycle of violence: the phenomenon of child victims becoming adult criminals later in life due to their early experiences - Hypothesis supported by the following: - (1) the target of physical abuse - (2) exposed to interadult violence - Females exposed to family violence may be even more likely to manifest behavioural and adjustment problems as they mature - Seeing physical violence was found to be related to long-term behaviour problems (aggression, emotional problems) The Nature of Victimization Pg. 105 - Canadian Urban Victimization Survey (CUVS): purpose of which was to acquire information on the extent of crime, impact of victimization, public perception of crime and criminal justice system and public knowledge o crime prevention and compensation programs - General Social Survey (GSS) international patterns of victimization show that Canadians are relatively free from contact with crime compared with people in some other countries - Patterns in victimization surveys are stable and repetitive (victimization is not random but rather is a function of personal and ecological factors - Acquaintance-related crime: similar to intimate violence, in some crimes there is a prior relationship between the offender and the victim; date rape is such a crime - Stranger-related crime: unlike acquaintance related crime, some crimes do not require or arise from a prior relationship between the offender and the victim (car-jacking) The Social Ecology of Victimization Pg. 106 - GSS survey tells us a lot about the social and demographic patterns of victimization: where, when and how it occurs and whether a victims involvement in a crime is random Victim Characteristics Pg. 107 Gender - Gender is related to the risk of crime, fear of crime and a persons sense of control - When men are victims of violent crimes, the perpetrator is usually a stranger, women are much more likely to be attacked by a relative than men are - Gender is significant factor in crimes, ie. Stalking: women account for 78% of victims in criminal harassment cases (stalking = gendered crime) - Jane Doe 2000: sued police $4.5 million for not warning about potential serial killer - Women engage in defensive behaviours, managing their fear of crime by decisions on where to walk, where to park and whom to see Age - Usually the focus is on how young people commit a greater proportion of certain crimes than do other age groups - 2003: 16-24 y/o represented 14% of property crimes and 32% of violent crimes - Rate of youth accused of homicide in 2006 was the highest since 1961 - GSS victimization survey shows that youths face a much greater victimization risk than do older persons - Elderly are usually much safer than young people with a victimization rate of half of one percent of total violations against the person - Age and victimization may be bound up in the lifestyle shared by young people - Recent increases in victimization are a result of a greater public awareness of problem Social Status - Poorest Canadians are more likely to be victims of crime; more likely to live in areas that are crime-prone - Poverty increases risk of child abuse3 - Canadian Incidence Study (CIS): documents child abuse cases involving neglect, emotional maltreatment, physical and sexual abuse and exposure to domestic violence - CIS: looked at potential family stressors asking child welfare workers to complete check list - Females: lack of social support, domestic violence, mental health issues - Male: lack of social support, alcohol abuse, childhood maltreatment - Poor are more likely to be the victims of assault - Wealthy are more likely to be the targets of household victimization Relationship - Friends, acquaintances or someone else known to the victim were the accused in over half of all violence (especially in sexual, physical assault) - Homicide was more likely to be committed by a family member or acquaintance than a stranger - Same pattern exists for sexual assault, non-sexual assault, criminal harassment and abduction - Women in relationships are more likely to experience violence than are men - Four times more likely to be killed - Three times more likely to suffer injury - Five times more likely to need medical attention - Five time more likely to fear for their lives as a result of violence - Jurisdictions have polices on how to deal with violence against women in relationships (registries of protection orders to ensure that police have access to information on peace bonds and restraining orders) - When a spouse is killed; it is usually the woman (self-defence) Repeat Victimization Pg. 110 - Research shows that prior victimization is a strong predictor of future victimization - Research shows that households that have ex
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