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Chapter Three:. Victims and Victimization. Emergence of Victimology and Victimologists. For many years victims were just looked at as people who were “in the wrong place at the wrong time.” Starting in the 1960s researchers saw that victims sometimes play a role in a criminal incident

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Chapter Three:

Victims and Victimization


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Emergence of Victimology and Victimologists

  • For many years victims were just looked at as people who were “in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

  • Starting in the 1960s researchers saw that victims sometimes play a role in a criminal incident

    • Active role

    • Indirect role

  • Victimology

    • The study of the victim’s role in criminal events

  • Victimologists

    • Criminologists who specifically focus on the victims of crime


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Problems of Crime Victims

  • Estimated 23 million annual victimizations in the U.S.

  • These crimes can have short and long term consequences on the victim and society

  • These include:

    • Economic loss

    • System abuse

    • Long term stress

    • Fear

    • Antisocial Behavior


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The Nature of Victimization

  • Since 1993 the number of victimizations are declining

    • NCVS Data

  • Patterns of victimization are stable

    • Victimization is not random

    • Becoming a crime victim has a lot to do with personal and ecological factors

  • How is this useful?

    • Researchers can make judgments about the nature of victimization

    • Efforts can be made to reduce the victimization rate


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The Social Ecology of Victimization

  • Violent crimes are slightly more likely to occur in a public area during daytime or early evening hours

  • More serious violent crimes typically occur after 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.

    • Rape and aggravated assault

  • Less serious violent crimes more likely occur in the day

    • Purse snatching and unarmed robberies

  • The risk of murder is highest in disorganized inner-city areas

  • Rural areas have significantly lower victimization rates than urban areas (half as much)

  • Schools are also the location of many victimization

    • Numbers are decreasing


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The Victim’s Household

  • In the U.S. certain homes are more vulnerable to crimes

    • Larger homes (family size)

    • African American

    • Renters

    • Western and urban homes

      • Rural white homes in the Northeast are least likely to contain crime victims

  • Reasons for decrease in victimizations based on current household trends???


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Important Victim Characteristics

  • Gender

  • Age

  • Social status

  • Marital status

  • Race and Ethnicity

  • Repeat victimization


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Gender

Males are more likely to be the victims of violent crimes (robbery/assault)

Except for rape or sexual assault

Two thirds of women are victimized by someone they know or live with

Half of male victims are attacked by someone they know

With the increase in gender equality, women’s victimization rates are as well

Age

Young people have a much higher victimization rate

Victim risk rapidly diminishes after age 25

By age 65 chances of being victimized greatly decrease

1% of violent victimizations

With increases in reports of elder abuse, victimization rates for the elderly will increase

More likely to be victims of crimes such as

Frauds and scams

Purse snatching


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Social Status

The poorest Americans are the most likely victims of violent and property crime

Regardless of age, gender, and race

The wealthy are more likely the targets of personal theft crimes

Marital Status

Never-married men and women have higher victimization rates than married people

Widows and widowers have the lowest victimization rate

The relationship between marital status and victimization is probably influenced by gender, age, and lifestyle


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Race and Ethnicity

  • African Americans are more likely than whites to be victims of violent crime

  • Due to income inequality, many racial and ethnic minorities live in deteriorated urban areas with high rates of violence

  • Overall the rate of black victimization is on the decline


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Routine Activities Theory

  • The view that victimization results from the interaction of three everyday factors:

    • Suitable targets

      • objects of crime that are attractive and readily available

    • Absence of capable guardians

      • effective deterrents to crime, such as police

    • Presence of motivated offenders

      • people willing and able to commit crimes

  • The presence of these three components increases the chances that a crime will take place

  • Hot Spots


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Research that SupportsRoutine Activities Theory

  • Argued that crime rates increased between 1960 and 1980 because females entered the workplace

  • Increased drug usage in the 1980s created more motivated offenders

  • Decline in crime rates since the 1990s may be a result of the improved economy


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Caring for the Victim

  • More than 75% of the public has been a victim at least once in their life

  • Many individuals are left suffering after the crime

  • There is a need to help these victims adjust and help them recover

  • The government has responded to this need

    • Ronald Reagan created the Task Force on Victims of Crime in 1982

    • 1984 Comprehensive Crime Control Act

    • 2004 Crime Victims’ Rights Act

    • Approximately 2000 programs to assist crime victims and witnesses have been developed in the U.S.


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Types of assistance include:

  • Victim Compensation

  • Victim Advocates

  • Victim Counseling

  • Public Education

  • Victim-offender reconciliation

  • Victim Impact Statements


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Victims and Self Protection

  • Many individuals have become their own “police force”

    • Take an active role in community protection

  • The more crime in an area the more likely residents will resort to self protective measures

  • Many crimes are not reported because people prefer to take matters in their own hands

    • Target hardening

    • Fighting back

    • Standing your ground

    • Community organization


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Victims’ Rights

  • Society is obligated to ensure basic rights for law-abiding citizens

  • Every state has legal rights for crime victims in its code of law

  • These are often called a Victims’ Bill of Rights and include:

    • To be notified of proceedings and the status of the defendant

    • To be present at criminal justice proceedings

    • To make a statement at sentencing and to receive restitution from a convicted offender

    • To be consulted before a case is dismissed or a plea agreement entered

    • To a speedy trial

    • To keep the victim’s contact information confidential


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New Movements for Victims’ Rights

  • Offender registration laws

    • These are controversial laws that require the name and address of known sex offenders be posted by law enforcement agencies

    • Almost every state today has sex offender laws

    • The federal government has a National Sex Offender Public Registry


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