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Attitude of the Victim Toward the Offense and the Offender (From Verbrechensopfer, P 199-218, 1979, Gerd Gerdinand Kirchhoff and Klaus Sessar, ed. - See NCJ-72716)

NCJ Number
B Villmow
Date Published
A survey of various studies examines the attitudes of victims toward offenses and offenders, the consequences of particular attitudes, and the need for modification of attitudes through public information.
According to recent findings, the general public expresses willingness to report serious crimes, i.e., crimes involving extensive physical or material damages. Crimes are less likely to be reported when damage is slight, when the law enforcement agencies are considered ineffective, and when the interests of the offender are taken into account by the victim. Study results indicate that crime victims are not likely to regard offenses as more serious than nonvictims. According to some studies, victimization does not appear to be necessarily correlated to increased fear of crime, although fear does seem to be related to the type of crime and to factors such as victim age and the time interval since the crime. According to other studies, insecurity and concern about growing crime rates rises in victims and increases with repeated victimization. Contrary to what one might expect, victimization does not cause victims to demand harsher treatment of offenders. In fact, victims in some cases show greater tolerance towards juvenile offenders after victimization, especially if they are personally acquainted with an offender. Findings suggest that the roles of offender and victim are not clearly differentiated: attitudes of victims may be colored by the relative insignificance of the crime, by the interview situation, or by knowledge of their own criminal behavior. In general, crime victims are somewhat more inclined than nonvictims to alter their activities and to take preventive measures in hopes of avoiding victimization. The alterations tend to be minor changes in how they do things rather than radical shifts in what they do. It is concluded that factors other than victimization are just as important as causing insecurity and fear of crime in the poplulation. The need for objective public information about the extent and course of crime is emphasized. Notes, tables, and a 43-item bibliography are supplied.