Sex Roles

, Volume 77, Issue 9–10, pp 676–686 | Cite as

“Watch out, Sweetie”: The Impact of Gender and Offence Type on Parents’ Altruistic Fear of Crime

  • Laura Vozmediano
  • César San-Juan
  • Ana I. Vergara
  • Natalia Alonso-Alberca
Original Article


Altruistic fear of crime, that is, the fear that another person will become a victim of crime, is frequent and relevant, especially among parents for their children, but it has received much less attention than personal fear in the social sciences literature. We aim to analyze this fear in relation to a parent’s gender, family gender composition (having sons only, daughters only or a mixed composition with both sons and daughters), and feared type of crime, with a sample of 290 parents from the Basque Country (north of Spain). A mixed-design ANCOVA showed no differences between mothers’ and fathers’ fears, but a statistically significant interaction was found between family gender composition and crime type. Parents in families with at least one daughter (daughters only and mixed families) reported more frequent fear than those in families with only sons, and fear was even more frequent when considering sexual abuse. Increased fear for daughters happens for all the considered crime types, even for those in which victims are usually boys. Findings highlight the relevance of parental fears even in objectively safe cities like the studied one, and they have implications for future studies on gendered transmission of fears and on related parental practices with impact on the autonomy and well-being of children.


Fear of crime Altruistic fear Gender Parent child relations 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Sources of Funding

This study was possible thanks to a pre-doctoral grant awarded to Laura Vozmediano in the framework of the Research Training Program of the Department of Education, Universities and Investigation of the Basque Government. Financing was also received from the grant for research teams from the Basque School of Territorial and Urban Studies (EVETU), which depends on the Basque Institute of Public Administration.

Disclosure of Potential Conflict of Interest

We are not aware of any potential conflict of interest regarding this research and possible publication.

Research Involving Human Participants and Informed Consent

The study was carried out by professionals aware of the ethical standards that apply to research involving human participants. The interviewees were given details about the team carrying out the research and informed of the purposes of the study, and they agreed to participate before starting answering the questionnaire. No personal information that could allow to identify the participants was stored by the research team and gathered data was used only for research purposes in the frame of the concrete project.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Social Psychology and Behavioral Science Methodology. Faculty of PsychologyUniversity of the Basque Country UPV/EHUDonostia-San SebastianSpain
  2. 2.Research and Diagnosis Methods in Education. Faculty of Education, Philosophy and AnthropologyUniversity of the Basque Country UPV/EHUDonostia-San SebastianSpain

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