Fear of Crime

Topics: Crime, Sociology, Old age Pages: 5 (1936 words) Published: January 19, 2012
Fear of Crime in members of our society today has been widely researched. For the purpose of this essay, fear of crime is used in the context of an individual’s perceived risk of becoming a victim of crime. In this essay it is argued that the elderly and the youngest members of our society are the most fearful of crime and that, of these age groups the elderly have the lowest risk of becoming victims of crime. Firstly, research shows that fear of crime is wide spread and that certain age groups are more fearful of becoming victims than others. Secondly, that the Media’s portrayal of crimes contributes to society’s perceptions of safety and crime itself, increasing fear of crime in these age groups. Thirdly, that the Elderly fears of crime and perceived risk of victimisation is also contributed to by social and physiological factors, such as vulnerability that leads to altered lifestyle changes. Data confirms that levels of victimisation rates are low for the elderly but high for the young, which is in contrast to those in the elderly age group having heightened levels of fear. In conclusion, fear of crime is becoming a serious societal issue as our population ages being that the elderly are becoming the most fearful of crime whilst the youngest age group with the highest fear are most likely to become victims of crime. Discussion

Firstly, we see that in modern society today that a growing fear of crime is widely recognised. It is acknowledged that the elderly aged 65 and over, and the youngest members aged 16 - 24 of our society have the highest fear of crime in comparison to other age groups(Johnson, 2005). Australia has an aging population (James, 1992 p.1), for those 85 and over numbers has doubled and there are increased numbers of those aged 65 and over. The last twenty years spanning from 1990 to 2010 has seen the number of elderly people in our society increase by 170%; in comparison to around 30% for total population growth for Australia, where those age 15 are seen to be decreasing (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2010). This correlated to the findings from the 2004 International Crime Victimisation Survey (Johnson, 2005) showing that the age groups 15 - 24 and 65 and over were the most likely to answer the series of questions asked around feelings of safety when walking alone at night, utilising or waiting for public transportation at night and whether they believed they would be victims of burglary in the next year as unsafe or very unsafe.

Secondly, it is argued that the Media’s representations of criminal acts and events through sensationalised stories depicting crimes that are violent and those with a sexual nature; these have contributed to and influenced levels of fear and perceptions of risk for the age groups 15 - 24, and 65 years and over. The first edition of Violence Today (Chappell, 1989) links society’s perceptions of violent crime to media stories and publicity that is focussed on crimes of a violent nature that attributes to growing fears of crime posturing “Australia is succumbing to a torrent of crime beyond the control of traditional system of traditional law” (Chappell, 1989). The focus on violent and sexually explicit crimes by the media has left our society with the misconception that these sorts of crimes are an everyday occurrence. The Australian Survey of Social Attitudes (Roberts & Indermaur, Australian Institute of Criminology 2007) recorded that over half of those aged 65 and over believed that crime had increased over a period of two years before the survey was completed, this is attributed to an individual’s media consumption – whether it be newspapers, internet or television – of factual or fictional medians (Kort-Butler & Sittner Hartshorn, 2011). The Australian Survey of Social Attitudes also collected data on the medians that individuals get their crime and criminal justice beliefs and views from, and observed “that the media remains the...

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Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2010, Australian Social Trends, cat no. 4102.0, Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra.
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