People’s ideas about crime are based mainly on what they are told by certain groups that are trying to influence existing legislation, media, or people who publish official crime statistics. Considering the consequences of a crime on a person, it is essential to focus on the physical, emotional, and material damage caused to the victim during the crime itself. Nevertheless, crime affects not only the victims but most people, even if they have never been victims of any crime. The reason for this phenomenon is that the mere possibility of being a victim instills in people a strong sense of fear, which, in turn, can have a significant impact on a person’s life. Indeed, the fear of crime can be seen as a social consequence of crime because, at any given moment, the number of frightened people far exceeds the actual number of victims. Such a situation can create an imbalance in crime perception leading to increased crime rates. As a social phenomenon, the fear of crime can sometimes be more dangerous than the crime itself, leading to distortion in the social order.
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There are many criminological theories exploring the reasons for crimes. Most of them consider the economic and sociological factors as a mechanism forcing people to cross the line. For example, critical criminology offers the phenomenon of social push as a leading cause of crimes (Kenneth, 2021). People from humiliated minorities experiencing the constant oppression and inequality of rights and opportunities are likely to commit crimes. Violence and crime-related intentions are born because of society, which, in turn, perceives the offense through the prism presented in the media and legislation system. The judicial system administration can intentionally create a politically-beneficial image of criminals, fueling people’s fear. Fear is the most influential and primitive human emotion which can be used in manipulation aims. The government or legislative system can use fear to create a controllable population. To do so, the media spread exaggerated data about crime rates trying to implement the fear of crimes in people. As a result, the social push phenomenon becomes even more aggravated, increasing crime rates. Thus, the fear of crime and crime itself are interdependent notions.
An essential problem provoking the social push is the capitalistic social order involving high inequality and class division. Such a society requests the minority to be humiliated to express dominance. However, not the inequality itself provokes the crimes, but people’s attitudes and presuppositions (Lighton & Reiman, 2020). The legislation system provides a clear distinction between good and evil for people. They have no need to question such a crime perception. The distorted understanding of social classes and crimes leads to stigmatization. As a result of fear of crime, the humiliation starts to spread despite the actual facts. The situation is aggravated in the US because of the American dream affirmations. People estimate others based on material success and prosperity. Therefore, the poor population is intentionally considered as not equal, as foes. The legislation system uses the American dream’s psychological impact to create potentially dangerous minorities. As a result, the fear of crime in people’s minds forces them to humiliate class or race minorities.
The representatives of these minorities, being deprived of equal treatment and opportunities, often commit crimes. The fear of crime is more potentially dangerous than the crime itself for the capitalistic society (Biglin et al., 2018). This statement can be described by the idea that crimes are easier to eliminate than the fear of crimes. As far as these two phenomena are interrelated, eliminating one can be insufficient, especially considering the American dream influences. There are examples of successful crime rates decreasing using peacemaking criminology and transformative justice in Norway (Krulichova, 2018). However, this approach requires a change in the perception of criminals. They should be considered not as enemies of all nations but as people who need help. Such an approach empowers society to avoid humiliation despite class differences. However, the fear of crime is more challenging to be fought. It is more dangerous, especially when it is provoked by the government, legislative system, or society. The violence against minorities and social push empower only more crime-related violence.
Therefore, the fear of crime is worse than the crime itself. The crime rates can be decreased through the particular actions of police or legislation, while the fear of crime has dipped roots in politics and governmental control. In order to address both problems, transformative justice can be used (Kenneth, 2021). This approach can contribute to changes not only in the judicial system but in the whole of society. As far as the capitalist society model can not be eliminated completely, the judicial system should focus on changing people’s understanding of class, inequality, and crime. The discussed changes are global in nature and time-consuming. Society’s perception of crime cannot be changed in a short period. However, it can even solve some inequality issues when people do not associate the fear of crime with humiliated minorities.
Biglin, S., Chouhy, C., Gertz, M., Lehmann, P., Singer, A., & Walzak., J. (2021). Victimization, fear of crime, and trust in criminal justice institutions: a cross-national analysis. Crime & Delinquency, 65(6), 822–844. Web.
Kenneth, L. (2021). Critical criminology and race: Re-examining the whiteness of US criminological thought. The Howard Journal of Crime and Justice, 60(3), 384–408. Web.
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Krulichova, E. (2018). Life satisfaction and happiness: discussing the impact of fear of crime and victimization. Acta Universitatis Carolinae Philosophica et Historica, 2, 23–37. Web.
Lighton, P., & Reiman, J. (2020). The rich get richer and the poor get prison. Routlege.