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Fear of crime may be healthy

Harold Mandel's picture
Fear of Crime

There appears to be what can often be considered a healthy fear of crime which is actually a good thing. Sometimes it has been said living with a fear of crime is more detrimental than helpful. This does not seem to be true.


Fear of crime serves an important deterrence function

It has often been stated that a fear of crime is a manifestation of a social ill which undermines dimensions of well-being of people. More recent research points to a fear of crime as helping to serve an important deterrence function. This fear helps to decrease individuals’ involvement in violent encounters reported Justice Quarterly. Researchers think this notion holds vital clues to help in an understanding of the social sources of violence.

Fear of crime decreases violence involvement via constraining routine activities

The researchers have investigated whether or not a fear of crime inhibits involvement in violent encounters as seen both from the perspective as offender or victim. It has also been explored whether or not adjustments in routine activities due to this fear can help to explain these effects. The results of this research have suggested that fear of crime decreases violence involvement partially via constraining routine activities. The researchers have come to the conclusion that fear of crime appears to be a significant mechanism of violence mitigation which paradoxically enhances physical well-being.

A healthy fear of crime is actually a good thing

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The concept of “white flight” from big cities has emerged as being due to fear of crime in the United States in the past half-century reports Michigan State University. This has become known as a quality of life issue which has prompted scholars and law enforcement experts look into ways of decreasing this fear. However, a Michigan State University criminologist has challenged this longstanding theory with the position that a healthy fear of crime is actually a good thing.

Youth who are fearful of crime tend to avoid potentially dangerous situations

It has been suggested by this study that adolescents who are more afraid of crime are not as likely to become victims and offenders of violent criminal acts. What has been observed is that basically youth who are fearful of crime tend to avoid potentially dangerous situations in dealing with people, locations and activities such as drug parties.

Law enforcement agencies should focus on direct anti-crime initiatives

Chris Melde, an MSU associate professor of criminal justice, says instead of trying to decrease this fear law enforcement agencies should focus on direct anti-crime initiatives and provide details on which crimes are most likely to occur and where they are most likely to occur. In this manner citizens would become more well informed on issues which could affect their routine activities and safety.

Fear reduction is not likely to be an effective crime-reduction strategy

Melde says that policies which are directed at fear reduction are not likely to be effective crime-reduction strategies. He suggests in order to reduce crime and victimization people should be presented with an accurate assessment of crime and delinquency in local areas. The bottom line is Melde is right to conclude that we should attempt to leave fear alone as a natural response to crime unless we find that it becomes of a chronic or phobic nature.