Security Journal

, Volume 22, Issue 1, pp 40–55 | Cite as

Fear of crime on campus: Gender differences in use of self-protective behaviours at an urban university

  • April D Woolnough
Original Article

Abstract

Research establishes that female college students are more fearful of crime on campus and are more likely to believe they will be victimized than male students. However, little is known about how students’ fear of crime and their perceptions of risk influence their use of self-protective behaviours. Undergraduates at an urban university were surveyed about fear and perceived likelihood of being the victim of various crimes and their use of self-protective behaviours. This study examines students’ use of self-protective behaviours and compares sex differences in fear, perceived likelihood of different types of crime and score on a self-protective behaviours index. Results suggest that women engage in self-protective behaviours more than men, and do so based upon their fear of crime and perceived likelihood of victimization; in addition, women are more likely to engage in self-protective behaviours than men even after fear and perceived risk are held constant.

Keywords

fear of crime college victimization campus safety security 

Notes

Acknowledgements

This work was completed while the author attended The George Washington University, Washington, DC. An earlier version of this paper was presented at the Association for Applied and Clinical Sociology annual meeting in October 2007. I would like to thank Eric Sean Williams for his guidance in completing this research and comments on earlier drafts of this paper.

References

  1. Bachman, R., Saltzman, L., Thompson, M. and Carmody, D. (2002) Disentangling the effects of self-protective behaviors on the risk of injury in assaults against women. Journal of Quantitative Criminology 18 (2): 135–157.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Barberet, R., Fisher, B. and Taylor, H. (2004) University Student Safety in the East Midlands. Home Office: London, UK. Home Office Online Report no. 61/04. Retrieved 3 May 2008 from http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/rds/pdfs04/rdsolr6104.pdf.
  3. Baum, K. and Klaus, P. (2005) Violent Victimization of College Students, 1995–2002. Washington, DC: US Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, (NCJ 206836).Google Scholar
  4. Bedenbaugh, C. (2003) Measuring Fear of Crime on Campus: A Study of an Urban University, Louisiana State University Master's Project, evaluated and defended in May 2003.Google Scholar
  5. Chadee, D., Austen, L. and Ditton, J. (2007) The relationship between likelihood and fear of criminal victimization: Evaluating risk sensitivity as a mediating concept. British Journal of Criminology 47: 133–153.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Crowe, T. (1999) Crime Prevention through Environmental Design: Applications of Architectural Design and Space Management Concepts. Boston: Butterworth-Heineman.Google Scholar
  7. Day, K. (1994) Conceptualizing women's fear of sexual assault on campus. Environment and Behavior 26 (6): 742–764.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Ferraro, K. (1995) Fear of Crime: Interpreting Victimization Risk. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  9. Fischer, M. (2007) Settling into campus life: Differences by race/ethnicity in college involvement and outcomes. The Journal of Higher Education 78 (2): 125–162.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Fisher, B. (1995) Crime and fear on campus. The Annuals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 539: 85–101.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Fisher, B. and Sloan, J. (2003) Unraveling the fear of victimization among college women: Is the ‘Shadow of Sexual Assault Hypothesis’ supported? Justice Quarterly 20 (3): 633–660.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Fisher, B., Sloan, J., Cullen, F. and Lu, C. (1998) Crime in the ivory tower: The level and sources of student victimization. Criminology 36 (3): 671–711.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Fisher, B., Sloan, J. and Wilkins, D. (1995) Fear and Perceived Risk of Victimization in an Urban University Setting. In: B. Fisher and J. Sloan (eds.) Campus Crime: Legal, Social and Policy Perspectives. Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas.Google Scholar
  14. Griffith, J., Hueston, H., Wilson, E., Moyers, C. and Hart, C. (2004) Satisfaction with campus police services. College Student Journal 38 (1): 150–156.Google Scholar
  15. Hickman, S. and Muehlenhard, C. (1997) College women's fears and precautionary behaviors relating to acquaintance rape and stranger rape. Psychology of Women Quarterly 21: 527–547.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hughes, P., Sherrill, C., Myers, B., Rowe, N. and Marshall, D. (2003) Self-defense and martial arts evaluation for college women: Preliminary validation of perceptions of dangerous situations scale. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport 74 (2): 153–164.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Johnson, K. and Keen, J. (2007) Universities will reconsider own security plans. USA Today, 16 April.Google Scholar
  18. McConnell, E. (1997) Fear of crime on campus: A study of a southern university. Journal of Security Administration 20: 22–46.Google Scholar
  19. National Crime Prevention Institute. (2001) Understanding Crime Prevention, 2nd edn. Boston: Butterworth-Heineman.Google Scholar
  20. O’Brien, E. and Zudak, C. (1998) Minority-serving institutions: An overview. New Directions for Higher Education 102: 5–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Parker, K., Morris, B., Smith, E. and Murty, K. (1993) Fear of crime and the likelihood of victimization: A bi-ethnic comparison. Journal of Social Psychology 133 (5): 723–732.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Paulson, A. and Scherer, R. (2007) How safe are college campuses? Christian Science Monitor 18 April, p. 1.Google Scholar
  23. Pearce, R. and Lin, Z. (2007) Chinese American post-secondary achievement and attainment: A cultural and structural analysis. Educational Review 59 (1): 19–36.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Reaves, B. (2008) Campus Law Enforcement, 2004–2005. Washington, DC: US Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, (NCJ 219374).Google Scholar
  25. Schafer, J., Huebner, B. and Bynum, T. (2006) Fear of crime and criminal victimization: Gender-based contrasts. Journal of Criminal Justice 34: 285–301.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Warr, M. (1984) Fear of victimization: Why are women and the elderly more afraid? Social Science Quarterly 65: 681–702.Google Scholar
  27. Wilcox, P., Jordan, C. and Pritchard, A. (2007) A multidimensional examination of campus safety: Victimization, perceptions of danger, worry about crime, and precautionary behavior among college women in the post-Clery Era. Crime & Delinquency 53: 219–253.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • April D Woolnough
    • 1
  1. 1.Crime, Law, and Justice Program, The Pennsylvania State University, 211 Oswald Tower, University ParkPennsylvaniaUSA

Personalised recommendations