Victimization

IX. Domains of Victimization

Victimization occurs in a variety of domains that modify the risks by altering criminal opportunity structures. Any setting can provide opportunities for different types of victimization.

A. Workplaces

Characteristics of specific workplaces structure worker routine activities and opportunity structures differently, and some increase employee risk of victimization more so than others. Lynch (1987) analyzed the relationship between worker routine activities and victimization at work. He reported that a person’s routine activities at work, as well as the proximity of the workplace to potential offenders, significantly influenced the risks of worker victimization.

B. Schools

Schools are domains where young people congregate and, as such, provide unique circumstances as an environment for victimization to occur. The 1995 supplement to the NCVS that focused on school victimization reported that 4.2% of the sample reported experiencing a violent victimization at school, and 11.6% had experienced property victimization. Because young people disproportionately represent both victims and/or offenders, routine activities theory would suggest that schools are places where victimization is likely to occur when guardianship is low. Astor, Meyer, and Behre (1999) found this to be the case—school areas such as parking lots, dining areas, and hallways were considered “unowned” by teachers and staff and were the locations where violence was most likely to occur.

C. College and University Campuses

College campuses are not ivory towers where students are insulated from risks of victimization but instead are another domain for victimization (Fisher et al., 1998). Although on-campus victimization of students is far from commonplace, for some types of crimes, such as property theft, college students are more at risk of victimization on campus than they would be off campus. Consistent with routine activities theory, Fisher et al. (2000) found that exposure to risky situations, in conjunction with a lack of guardianship and proximity to motivated offenders, placed college women at higher risk of being a victim of stalking. Women who lived alone had significantly higher odds of being stalked than women who did not live alone.

D. Places of Leisure

Places of leisure—bars and taverns, football stadiums, movie theaters, beaches, and many other places where strangers congregate that have domain-specific characteristics that dictate routine activities and behavior within that setting—are often domains of victimization. Roncek and Maier (1991) concluded that the number of bars and taverns had a significant positive impact on area crime. For example, assaults and robberies are almost 20% more likely to occur on blocks with bars or taverns than on those without such establishments. Patrons of these businesses may be more susceptible to having their property stolen if they are impaired by alcohol, may be more likely to get into a barroom brawl, or may be more vulnerable to hustlers.

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