Ideal Victim

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An ‘ideal victim’ is someone who has played no part in their victimisation by an offender who was wholly responsible for the incident. The public can relate to the ‘ideal victims’ ordeal and although they have been through an awful sometimes incomprehensible experience society views the ‘ideal victim’ “as pure, blameless (hence passive) people against whom an evil act was omitted by a depraved individual” (Spalek, B. 2006 p25). Although most people can relate to an ‘ideal victim’ there is a ‘positivist perspective’ in victimology that defines the behaviour and circumstances of people can have a direct contribution to their victimisation. However, the ‘feminist perspective’ would argue that by suggesting a victim had aided in their victimisation would require the victim to accept some form of accountability for their victimisation. A ‘radical perspective’ broadens our understanding of victimhood. It requires us to acknowledge imbalances of power within society and how it increases the likely hood of victimisation. “Power relations are fundamental to the way society is structured; that those power relations are unjust; and that those unjust power relations are the context within which we should think about crime and victimisation” (Edwards, P. 2012). National crime surveys assist governments in gathering information about a wide range of crime-related issues (Spalek, B. 2006 p47). My discussion will encompass the important functions of national crime surveys and how local surveys can provide “precise local knowledge” (Spalek, B. 2006 p56) in respect to victimisation. An ‘ideal victim’ attracts society’s attention and sympathy. They are viewed as having played no part in their victimisation. The more susceptible and innocent the victim the more the public can see them as a victim. “Race, class and gender” influence how an ‘ideal victim’ is perceived and describes how “elderly people, children and women often receive more sympathetic response to their victimization than working class men” (Spalek, B. 2006 p22). Governments utilise ‘ideal victim’ circumstances to pave way for new laws and policies, gaining support from public opinion of the ‘ideal victim’. Currently, in South Australia, Senator Nick Xenophon is aiming to introduce laws to stop online predators. This legislation, known as Carly’s Law, was formed after 15 year old Carly Ryan was groomed online by 47 year old, Gary Francis Newman. She ultimately agreed to meet the 47 year old who posed as 20 year old musician. Newman lured Carly to a beach in South Australia where she was murdered. Newman is currently serving a custodial sentence of 29 years non-parole. (Source: News.com) Carly Ryan is an ‘ideal victim’, a juvenile female who was victimised by an “’ideal offender’, who is ‘evil’“(Spalek, B. 2006 p23). Many victims refuse to be termed ‘victim’ instead prefer to promote the term ‘survivor’. They prefer to be identified “as an agent who has resisted their abuse to become emotionally and psychologically stronger’ (Spalek, B. 2006 p26). The ‘survivor’ shows great determination to overcome difficulties and from their victimisation they are able to help others. This, however, “can be unhelpful, since individuals can be put under pressure to be a certain type of victim, an idealised hero...” when they themselves are yet to fully understand and triumph over their victimisation (Spalek, B. 2006 p11). A ‘victim’, as defined in The South Australian Victims of Crime Act, 2001; “in relation to an offence, means a person who suffers harm as a result of the commission of the offence (but does not include a person who was a party to the commission of the offence)”. This definition supports the ideals of the ‘ideal victim’, as an ‘ideal victim’ “must be innocent; they must not be guilty of having contributed to their loss” (Bayley, J. 1991 p54). A ‘positivist perspective’ proposes victims have placed themselves in a position where they are contributing to...
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