Criminology Five Main Risk Factors for Criminal Essay

Excerpt from Essay :


Five main risk factors for criminal victimization

Cohen, Kluegel, and Land in their article Social inequality and predatory criminal victimization: An exposition and test of a formal theory adopts the interpretation of five factors in association with criminal victimization risks. These factors include

Exposure: The three authors define this risk factor for victimization as the "visibility and accessibility of persons or objects to potential offenders at any given time and place" (Cohen et al., 1981). This represents the capacity of the criminal offender to encounter the victim of the crime. The more frequently this factor (exposure) occurs, the more chance or opportunities to harm the victim or his or her property by the offender. For this factor to be effective, the victim must experience physical relationship or distance with the offender for the crime to occur. Accessibility of the victim would determine if he or she is in danger for prominent criminal attacks.

Proximity: The three authors define proximity as "the physical distance between areas where potential targets of crime reside and areas where relatively large populations of offenders are found" (Cohen et al., 1981). The difference between the first and the second factors for victimization is that the former illustrates the physical visibility aspects while the later evaluates the effect of offenders in relation to physical distance of the residential. When the distance between residential location of the victims and the offender is minimal, there would be high chances for victimization risk. This argument bases its foundation on the social interaction and gravity law of distance.

Target Attractiveness: The article defines target attractiveness as "the material or symbolic desirability of persons or property targets to potential offenders, as well as the perceived inertia of a target against illegal treatment" (Cohen et al., 1981). This factor focuses on the mass or weight, size, and physical abilities of the victim of crime to attain protection against criminal offenders. The ability of the property to appeal effectively to the criminal offender might prove to be a motivation to commit a crime. The essence of victimization risk depends on the extent of the target attractiveness. This illustrates that when the target attractiveness is high, victimization risks would be high.

Guardianship: The article refers to this factor as "the effectiveness of a person (housewives, neighbors, pedestrians, private security guards, law enforcement officers) or objects (burglar alarms, locks, barred windows) in preventing the violation from occurring, either by their presence alone or by some sort of direct or indirect action" (Cohen et al., 1981). The presence of effective guardianship would scare off the criminal offenders thus reducing the elements of victimization risk. Absence of the guardianship factors would enhance the ability of the criminal offenders to attack their targets. This would be because of the reduction on the security system.

Definitional Properties of Specific Crimes: The article refers to this factor as "the features of specific crimes that act to constrain strictly instrumental actions by potential offenders" (Cohen et al., 1981). The notion to this factor is that some crimes prove to be difficult to commit hence reduces the victimization risks to individuals within the target groups.

The main cause of property crime

The main cause for property crime is the presence of social inequality in the society. The presence of social inequality promotes the development of anomie (state of norm less) thus an opportunity for crime to take place. The difference between social status in the society results in the development of tension in the society. This creates the mood for property crime thus the main cause for the criminal activities in relation to physical property. Social inequality divides the society into different classes depending on the economic status of an individual. The creation classes lead to the development of tensions in view of exploitation and bridging of economical gaps. This is an indication that social inequality and poverty are the reasons behind numerous criminal activities in the contemporary world.

How guardianship relates to income level

Guardianship has direct, proportional relationship to the income levels. Increase in the income levels enhances the level of guardianship thus reduction of victimization risk. Individuals with higher income levels have the capacity to purchase guardianship instrumentals such as alarms, locks, and security gadgets. Higher income levels also allow society members to marry easily thus increasing the guardianship capabilities. This is through an increase in the number of potential targets that routinely attach to the victims of criminal offences. Individuals with low-income levels have minimal capacity to purchase guardianship instrumentals. Such instrumentals include alarms and locks. This situation enhances the victimization risks in relation to crime targets.

Relationship between Cohen, Kluegel, and Land's article and Sacco and Kennedy's book

Proximity: Sacco and Kennedy in their book Criminal event: an introduction to Criminology in Canada, illustrates the fact that for crime to occur within the society, there must be a connection of time and space between the criminal and the victim. Sacco and Kennedy came to recognize this notion as the "victims and offenders, intersecting in time and space" argument. This was the original view of Cohen, Kluegel, and Land in their article. Cohen et al. gave the proximity term or name to the argument in which criminals and victims had to relate or intersect for crime to occur. The relationship of crime and proximity (space and time) results into development of tension (anomie) thus execution of criminal activities.

Guardianship: Sacco and Kennedy note the fact that individuals tend to adopt instrumentals reducing the extent of criminal activities. Such activities might offer direct or indirect minimization of the rate of criminal activity or victimization processes. This idea represents one of the five factors of victimization risks Cohen et al. were explaining in the article. Instrumentals such as security guards offer direct protection to the subscribers thus reducing chances of criminal activities to the subjects or societal members. As noted in the article, the book explains the relationship of guardianship and income levels. There is a direct relationship between guardianship and income levels. Lower income earners within the society experiences limitations in adopting the guardianship models or instrumental hence have high chances of facing victimization risks. Higher income earners in the society have access to security alarms, doorbells, security guards, marriage partners and barred windows. This represents enhancement of the security systems hence minimization of the risks in relation to victimization process. The overriding factor in guardianship is the inequality of the social status or prestige within the context of the society.

The book notes that the presence of anomie state within the society is the main cause of crime. Cohen et al. describe the main cause of crime as the social inequality within the community. Social inequality leads to the creation of anomie sates where societal members abandon the routine ways of life. Individuals engage in criminal activities due to the development of tensions among different persons. The development of tensions results into the commitment of crime in order to bridge the gap of social inequality. There is a connection between social inequality in the article and the anomie state in the context of the book. Poverty and social inequalities are the reasons behind the ever-increasing cases of criminal activities in the society. This is view in both secondary sources thus a connection of ideas and arguments to illustrate reasons behind criminal activities.

Compare and Contrast

Both articles (Social inequality and predatory criminal victimization: An exposition and test of a formal theory. American Sociological Review and The cost of inequality: Metropolitan structure and violent crime) illustrates that inequality is a significant cause of criminal activities. The Cohen et al. article notes the fact that social inequality leads to the development or enhancement of crime in relation to property (Cohen et al., 1981). This is an illustration of the development…

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