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


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.


fear of crime college victimization campus safety security 



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.


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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

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