levels of fear of crime than their counterparts who did not(Dowler, 2003). An individual’s personal experiences, ethnicity, age, income, influencewhether or not media has an impact on them. Individuals with prior experienceof any involvement in crimes prior to watching crime related television wouldnot become fearful of them afterwards, whereas an individual who has no priorexperience being involved in crime, would become more fearful after watchingparticular news or television dramas (Liska & Baccaglini, 1990). Gerbner etal (1980) found that “the relationship between the fear of crime and the amountof television watched was greatest for females and white people”; Gerbner(1980) also pointed towards ‘female, whites and elderly people as more likelyto have a fear of crime’; despite their lower likelihoods in finding themselvesvictims of it” (Dowler, 2003). Only a minor subsection ofthe population have first-hand experience of violent crime, in reference tothis, the majority of people whom have not had any direct contact with violentcrime, believe the world is worse than it is; the result of this is major sectionsof the population within societies becoming more afraid of getting victimizedthan need be (McQuivey 1997).
The fear victimizationparadox is founded on one’s ability/inability to master involvement in aviolent crime. Fear Victimization paradox exists independently of thelikelihood of involvement in crime, it can happen despite the likelihood anindividual could be very likely become involved in a violent crime; “a truckdriver in the middle of the night at a rest area, its fear of crime might notbe high because it thinks that it has control over such a situation” (Sandman1993; Sparks and Ogles 1990). Vanderveen (2003) posits that “men usually thinkthey can handle it. Women feel more vulnerable”, in reality however, men aremore likely to become a victim of a crime (Bureau of Statistic and Research1996).
Past undertaken research has suggested that crime information portrayedin the form of facts and figures, have no influence on said individual’sperception of crime, furthermore, that media influence is just one of manyfactors to be taken into account when analysing prevalence to fear of crime,whether on an individual or societal basis (McQuivey, 1997). Older people havea greater fear of becoming a victim of crime ‘because they believe they aremore vulnerable’ than younger members in society (Carcach et. al., 2001). Theirphysical fitness and strength has declined leaving them in a weakened state,and therefore possibly targeting them as easy victims as they are less likelyto be able to defend themselves (Carcach et.
al., 2001). Gerbner etal (1980) confirmed his previous research in that those individuals who watchmore television than average showed a ‘higher rate of fear towards theirenvironment’ than those who watched less. More recently Dowler (2003) foundthat even when taking into account factors such as race, age, gender, income,education and marital status, those individuals whom watch more crime showstend to exhibit a significantly higher rate of being fearful of crime (Dowler,2003). Dowler went on to discover that hours of watching television newsprograms did not have a significant relationship with higher levels of fear ofcrime (Dowler, 2003).By the 1970s the crime or police dramahad replaced the western for the most prevalent prime-time television fare(Doyle, 2006).
The boundary between crime entertainment and crime informationhas been blurred progressively more in the past years (Dowler, Fleming, &Muzzatti, 2006). Roughly half of the newspapers and television items peoplecome into contact with are concerned with crime, justice or deviance (Doyle,2006). The mass media has been said to have influence over the way people lookat crime; as a result of the images portrayed, the image offered to the publicis one of differing appearance to the one founded on facts and figures, representedby the government (Doyle, 2006). (Surrette, 2006) goes onto point out thatcrime in the media has become formatted in a way that it is camouflaged as to depictan informative and realistic nature. The research appreciates that images whichpeople see on television are compared against the world which they see, thisbeing the foundation for people’s lines between crime on the media and reallife becoming distorted.
Flately (2010) also points out that there hasbeen a steady fall in crime since 1995, but people still tend to believe thatit is increasing. Public belief in rising crime levels, as aforementioned, canbe directly correlated to increasing levels of the media’s representation ofcrime. Fear of crime is something which can be used as a tool by government inthat a certain level of fear of crime is desirable to inspire problem solvingaction and inspire the fearful to take precautions; “exaggerated public perceptions of crime riskscan also lead to serious distortions in government spending priorities andpolicy making” (Bureau of Statistic and Research 1996).
Functional fear is a tool used by the masses forthe purposes of self-preservation, although this is often taken out of personalcontext and, one would