Fear of crime has gained momentum for the last 20 to 30 years now. At the conception stages of this issue, researchers were interested in finding out the source of the dark figure in crime, where such occurrences go unreported. It was theorized and found to have a great association with experiences of victimization. However, researchers done found the few of crime to be relative and it was determined by other factors, the main findings featured the discovery of the factors involved in the fear of crime.
Therefore, the research majored on defining fear in a crime situation. It established fear as the anticipation of victimization that was reflected by the vulnerability of a person in a crime situation. The fear of crime could also be related to the emotional reaction that was characterized by a sense of danger or bodily harm that were elicited by the perceived clues that one is in a dangerous environment.
Statistical overview of the fear of crime reveals that so many people fear crime more than the crime itself. The majority of the population were reported to have a fearful feeling while walking alone in a poorly lit lane at the wee hours of the night. There was a natural fear for darkness, but such a feeling was made worse by the fear of the unknown and the high prevalence of criminal activity in the dark. The figures recorded also varied according to the gender and age of the respondents. The media has also played a crucial role in highlighting the fear of crime among the citizens of the United States. It has come in handy with the fact that the media always covers crime stories extensively as they occur. It has changed the mentality of people towards crime as people have come to believe that there is more crime than in real life situation. As a result, such a belief has immensely contributed to the fear of crime in the society.
The issue of fear of crime has become a very prevalent issue that has raised debates all over the world. Many people in the current societies have expressed a lot of fear and anxiety about crime and the fact that they are being victimized for all the wrong reasons. The level of fear that people have depends on several factors. They differ depending on their age, gender, the location and any past experiences with crime. The factors above have an impact on the levels of fear of crime that one has been exposed to.
As a matter of fact, people have different reactions to crime. Researchers reveal that most people do not want to be caught at the crime scene with the main reason based on fear of crime. In this case, the women are the most affected and they never want to be found in a crime. On the other hand, other people fear victimization in case of an occurrence of a crime and they do prefer to stay safe and not even possess anything that may raise eyebrows or lead to harassment. In most cases, different characteristics in people prompt them to fear. In this case, the level of fear does not correspond to the risk of victimization. A person’s attributes may play a more substantial role than the other’s in determining the level of fear.
It is important to note that gender has been found as the strongest predictor to fear. With this in mind, it is scientifically proven that women have a much greater fear of crime than their male counterparts. Despite the fact that women are less victimized than men when found in the midst of a crime, they are the most fearful gender. However, a critical analysis of the several factors that may involve the occurrence of crime reveals that women have more reasons for the fear of crime than the male population. Women are not only weak at heart but their feminine and sexual features make them more vulnerable than the men.
Researchers did to reveal that women’s fear of crime is mainly instigated from their vulnerability to sexual aggression. Women themselves are exposed to crimes and they can be reasons for crimes such as rape cases. As a result, they not only fear crimes but also are alive to the fact that they are sources and they can be used as objects of crime. It is also a plain truth that women are ten times more likely to be sexually assaulted than men. As discussed above, so many rape cases reported involving bodily harm to the women and the girl child. The fear of sexual assaults and rape cases is also seen to transpose itself to other types of crimes. These are facts that women and the girl child have been made aware of. Therefore, this has culminated to their fear of crime more than the men.
Women have also been recognized as the weaker species among the creation. The social thinking on women and the fact that they have been made to think that they are weak has made them believe so. They have been socialized in thinking that they are weak and need men for protection and support in so many aspects of life. Any task that involves the use of power and strength have been left to the male species. In this case, women have been left to think that they are weak and they cannot compete with men when it comes to matters to do with strength. Therefore, since the day of birth, most women have depended on men totally for protection from any forms of attack. As a result, women are simply aware of the fact that they are vulnerable to attacks, therefore they are cannot even go out alone at night. Parents, media, and peers have loudly emphasized and reinforced this fear, and unfortunately, women have succumbed to it.
Alternatively, it has also been argued that women have less control over their personal and public space. They tend to fear strangers more, and they also have a natural fear towards men. The routine sexual harassment from the male gender makes women more fearful. They can imagine the outcome of a violent sexual harassment of an assassin. The exaggeration of the crimes against women that are over-reported by the media has also explained the higher fear levels among the women than their male counterparts.
Others have suggested and blamed women for contributory negligence on crime. Women should be able to prevent crimes and get to mature up. They have been socialized into the dependence of known men to them such as their brothers, husbands and male friends. They also have been socialized to a position that they cannot take responsibility for the offenses against them by giving chances to offenders. Women are seen never to raise alarms in crimes that they witness and can prevent by being brave and making the right decisions. A criminologist by the name Warr, suggests that women should drop the nonsense of fear and stake up their rightful positions in the community to preventing crimes. Their exaggerated fears have even led to fears of reporting and preventing small offenses such as burglary as they assume that such may lead to more serious crimes such as rape.
Women can be seen to be hysterically overreacting to a non-existent threat that makes them see high-level crimes go unreported. Others argue in support of the women that they are responsibly sensible to the reality that they can be the target of crime. Feminist writers and activists have defended the act by women and say that women are prone to physical threats and sexual violence at the streets, workplaces and even at home. Their vulnerability is just so high and very delicate to handle.
While the paper is determined to get facts right on the reasons behind the fear of women to crime, there is no question to the underlying stereotypes that women are fearful of unlike men. An example is clearly depicted from the studies done by Newburn and Stanko. The two duos challenge an assumption of homogeneity that is found within gender groups. They state that realists should stop demystifying the characteristics of men and women we talk since both men and women were largely homogenous. The assumptions on the society on social cohesion are possibly too optimistic. The realist victimology in a case of crime since crime is the problem for the working class, ethnic minorities as well as the vulnerable working class members in the society. Newburn and Stanko further argue that little is known about men’s experience of victimization since most men do not come out clean on their torture experiences. It is, therefore, quite unproblematic to assume that men are ready to disclose their vulnerability.
As a matter of utmost concern, women are able to see risks and they have a greater sensitivity to risk than men. As a result, women tend to have higher fear levels as they are able to sense an impending danger from far. Such a situation is enhanced by a double interaction effect that has a relationship between the females and their environment. The interaction mentioned above may enhance a person’s risk perception. Thus, gender and risk perception may interact to enhance fear. It is also a true indication that hidden victimization, enhanced predisposition to the generalization against time, space and victimization experience may lead to greater vulnerability in women than men.
There is a difference between men’s and women’s levels of fear control management and the neutralization of fear. The fear levels are seen to be rational. Men are socialized to place relatively high value on their physical stature and abilities when caught in a crime situation. They can always employ different tactics such as fighting, punching the offender, ability to take a flight among others. Men have also been made to believe that they have a protector role to the children and the women. The self-esteem in men makes it even difficult for them to admit that they can be fearful or they were at a point fearful in their lives. In simple terms, men are taught and made to believe that they are immune from fear and harm.
Other suggestions have been made on the reasons for the great fear of crime in women than in men. These fears include the irrationality where women are the most targeted group in cases of crime. They offer an easy target and mostly fall victims in so many cases. Women also have fewer coping skills in a case of an attack or a crime. Most women are unable to fight or defend themselves. In many cases, they are also unable to take to their heels so as for free themselves from any looming danger. Women also have more than enough reasons to fear as they have much greater concerns for their children. At times they are with their children, hence they fear more for the innocent kids that they can fall victims unknowingly. In such cases, women are justified to have more fear than the men who have the energy to defend themselves and mostly walk into a company of fellow men.
However, statistics also reveal that a majority of women suffer regular low levels of victimization than men in the form of sexual comments and sexists. Therefore, the minor physical violations on them and the high levels of fear does not reflect the reality behind this fact. As a result, suggestions on how to treat female victims in case of violence and the advice given to them on how to avoid victimization has reinforced the fear of attacks on them. The focus should be shifted to the tactics on how women can prevent victimization on them and an improvement in the manner to cope up in a crime scene situation. Women should also be taught how to present themselves to the public. In summary, there is no one reason that women are more fearful than men, they simply have so many reasons that exist that make women fearful.