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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractEfforts to explain the causes of victimization have been limited to the pioneering work of von Hentig, a few post hoc explanations of research findings, and scattered references to victim provocation. Victimologists have not only demonstrated little concern with the causes of victimization, they have also failed to give sufficient attention to the offender in their discussions of victimization. Explanations of victimization are necessarily related to theories on the causes of deviant behavior and changes of the offender since the offender's behavior is the direct cause of victimization. A review of the literature on victimization, the etiology of deviant behavior, and the operation of the legal system reveals that six different hypotheses about the causes of victimization have been advanced. These hypotheses predict that the probability of victimization is determined by: (1) exposure to offenders; (2) social distance from offenders; (3) economic attractiveness; (4) high status; (5) legal risk; and (6) physical intimidation. The image of the deviant and/or the motivations to deviate implied by each hypothesis are explored. Predictions from the six hypotheses are tested on questionnaire data from a middle class suburban high school in the Southwest. As expected, the research findings are most consistent with the predictions of the exposure hypothesis. The more exposed a student is to offenders, the greater the probability that he or she has suffered a theft or property destruction victimization both at school and elsewhere. The causes of both provoked and true personal victimization at school are also investigated. Exposure to offenders affects the probability of both true and provoked threat victimizations at school. However, high status and/or social distance from offenders also seem to play a role in true threat victimizations. Similar processes may be important in explaining attack victimizations at school.
Degree ProgramGraduate College