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Structural Constraints, Risky Lifestyles, and Repeat Victimization

Abstract

Objectives

Research indicates that victims who make changes to their risky behavioral routines are better able to avoid being victimized again in the future. Nevertheless, some victims’ abilities to change their behaviors may be limited by what Hindelang et al. in Victims of personal crime: an empirical foundation for a theory of personal victimization. Ballinger, Cambridge (1978) referred to as “structural constraints.” To assess this issue, we determine: (1) whether victims who reside in communities characterized by structural constraints (e.g., concentrated disadvantage) are more likely to continue engaging in risky behaviors (e.g., offending, illicit drug use, and getting drunk) after being victimized; and (2) whether victims who continue to engage in risky lifestyles have an increased likelihood of repeat victimization.

Methods

Ten waves of data (spanning nearly 7 years) from the Pathways to Desistance Study are used, and multilevel models are estimated to examine changes to risky lifestyles and repeat victimization among a subsample of victims.

Results

Findings indicate that community-level structural constraints impose limits on the changes that victims make to their risky lifestyles, and that these changes influence repeat victimization.

Conclusions

We conclude that, in the context of repeat victimization, structural constraints are both real and consequential, and that future theory and research should continue to explore how context shapes and influences victims’ behavioral routines.

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Notes

  1. Additional information can also be found at www.pathwaysstudy.pitt.edu.

  2. A total of 220 respondents reported violent victimization at wave 1. Three of these respondents never completed a follow-up interview in the community, and thus were excluded from the study sample.

  3. Over the course of data collection—84 months—most of the victim subsample (93.2%) moved at least once, and over half of victims (54.6%) reported three or more moves where they experienced changes in community conditions.

  4. Prior to carrying out the multivariate analyses, a series of model diagnostics were examined to rule out the presence of multicollinearity. Specifically, bivariate correlations between the independent variables did not exceed an absolute value of .53, which is below the traditional threshold of .70, and variance inflation factors were under 2.30, which is below the standard “conservative” cut off of 4.0 (Tabachnick and Fidell, 2012).

  5. It is possible that changes in illicit drug use and changes in getting drunk do not fully mediate the effects of concentrated disadvantage on repeat victimization because these variables do not precisely measure whether drinking and drug use occur in the kinds of risky contexts that increase proximity to potential offenders. For our purposes, it would be ideal if we could account for whether respondents tend to use illicit drugs or get drunk in risky settings (e.g., in public vs. at home), at risky times (e.g., at night), and around risky people (e.g., others who are drunk or high) that increase the likelihood of repeat victimization (Pratt and Turanovic, 2016).

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Acknowledgements

The Pathways to Desistance Study was supported by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (2000-MU–MU-0007), the National Institute of Justice (199-IJ-CX-0053), the National Institute of Drug Abuse (R01 DA019697-01), the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the William T. Grant Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, The Center for Disease Control, The William Penn Foundation, The Arizona Governor’s Justice Commission, and the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency. We are grateful for their support. The content of this paper, however, is the sole responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of these agencies.

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Turanovic, J.J., Pratt, T.C. & Piquero, A.R. Structural Constraints, Risky Lifestyles, and Repeat Victimization. J Quant Criminol 34, 251–274 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10940-016-9334-5

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Keywords

  • Violent victimization
  • Structural constraints
  • Risky lifestyles
  • Repeat victimization