Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Scared of crime? Science shows that healthy fear of crime is a good thing

Date:
August 12, 2014
Source:
Michigan State University
Summary:
A healthy fear of crime is a good thing, a study by a criminologist says. The study suggests adolescents who are more fearful of crime are less apt to become victims and offenders of violent acts. Essentially, fearful youth tend to avoid potentially dangerous people, locations and activities such as drug-fueled parties, said the lead researcher.

In the past half-century, fear of crime in the United States has fueled "white flight" from big cities, become known as a quality of life issue and prompted scholars and law enforcement experts to address ways of reducing this fear.

Related Articles


But a study by a Michigan State University criminologist challenges this longstanding theory by arguing that a healthy fear of crime is, in fact, a good thing.

The study, published online in the journal Justice Quarterly, suggests adolescents who are more fearful of crime are less apt to become victims and offenders of violent acts. Essentially, fearful youth tend to avoid potentially dangerous people, locations and activities such as drug-fueled parties, said Chris Melde, MSU associate professor of criminal justice.

Instead of trying to reduce this fear, Melde said law enforcement agencies should focus on direct anti-crime initiatives and providing details on which crimes are most likely to occur, and where. This would help citizens become better informed on issues that could affect their routine activities and safety.

"If we're going to reduce crime and victimization, we should present people with an accurate assessment of crime and delinquency in local areas," Melde said. "Policies aimed at fear reduction are not likely to be effective crime-reduction strategies."

Melde studied more than 1,600 youth from across the United States during a one-year period. He found that respondents who reported more fear were less likely to be involved in violent acts such as assaults, robberies and gang fights.

Interestingly, the results held for both victims and offenders. That's because the two groups often come from the same pool of people, which is called the "victim-offender overlap." While there are "pure" victims, Melde noted, disentangling victim from offender can come down to determining who started a street fight.

The findings relate to situations people can avoid, Melde said, and not to the types of victimization that deal with one person's power over another, such as child abuse and domestic violence.

"We should leave fear alone as a natural response to crime unless it reaches that chronic or phobic level," Melde said. "That's when you want to intervene."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Michigan State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Chris Melde, Mark T. Berg, Finn-Aage Esbensen. Fear, Social Interactions, and Violence Mitigation. Justice Quarterly, 2014; 1 DOI: 10.1080/07418825.2014.928348

Cite This Page:

Michigan State University. "Scared of crime? Science shows that healthy fear of crime is a good thing." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 August 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140812122329.htm>.
Michigan State University. (2014, August 12). Scared of crime? Science shows that healthy fear of crime is a good thing. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140812122329.htm
Michigan State University. "Scared of crime? Science shows that healthy fear of crime is a good thing." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140812122329.htm (accessed November 26, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Science & Society News

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Who Will Failed Nuclear Talks Hurt Most?

Who Will Failed Nuclear Talks Hurt Most?

Reuters - Business Video Online (Nov. 25, 2014) With no immediate prospect of sanctions relief for Iran, and no solid progress in negotiations with the West over the country's nuclear programme, Ciara Lee asks why talks have still not produced results and what a resolution would mean for both parties. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
FCC Forces T-Mobile To Alert Customers Of Data Throttling

FCC Forces T-Mobile To Alert Customers Of Data Throttling

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) T-Mobile and the FCC have reached an agreement requiring the company to alert customers when it throttles their data speeds. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) The US FDA is announcing new calorie rules on Tuesday that will require everywhere from theaters to vending machines to include calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Symantec Uncovers Sophisticated Spying Malware Regin

Symantec Uncovers Sophisticated Spying Malware Regin

Newsy (Nov. 24, 2014) A Symantec white paper reveals details about Regin, a spying malware of unusual complexity which is believed to be state-sponsored. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Science & Society

Business & Industry

Education & Learning

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins