Gabrielle Ferrales and Suzy Maves McElrath
Gender-based violence is one of the oldest sustaining features of war but has received significant scholarly attention only in the past two decades. Much of this work, however, focuses selectively on sexual violence, specifically rape by men against women. Mirroring the focus of recent social science research, this essay reviews the treatment of gender-based violence during recent and ongoing conflicts, identifying three theoretical paradigms that offer explanations for this violence based on gender inequality theory, social control theory, and strategies of warfare. The essay recommends that future researchers employ a more expansive conception of gender-based violence, deconstruct the dichotomous understanding of victim and perpetrator, and afford greater attention to the role of intersectionality in explaining gender-based violence during war. Such a reconceptualization will advance our understanding of the multitude forms gender-based violence assumes during armed conflict and facilitate more adequate theoretical explanations for the phenomenon.
Sara K. Thompson
Most criminological theory and research on the black homicide victimization is grounded in the American context, which raises important generalizability issues given the exceptional level of lethal violence that is used as the standard in this inquiry. This case study examines the social and spatial distribution of black homicide victimization in Toronto, Ontario, Canada between 1988 and 2003. Results suggest that, as in American cities, blacks in Toronto are over-represented as homicide victims and offenders, but there are important differences in the spatial distribution and ecological correlates of this violence. These findings highlight the importance of cross-national research when investigating the generalizability of findings from U.S.-based research on racially disaggregated homicide rates.
Kathleen Malley-Morrison and Denise A. Hines
This article summarizes current knowledge concerning child abuse in the United States. It discusses major approaches to assess the incidence and prevalence of child abuse, including the national family violence surveys (NFVS), national incidence studies (NIS), and national child abuse and neglect data system (NCANDS) surveys. It mentions the estimates of abuse rates provided by the different data sources, apparent changes in prevalence rates over time, and possible explanations of these changes. This article considers ethnic differences in rates of child abuse and data relating to these differences. It provides an overview of competing definitions of child abuse and the major theories for its occurrence. It concludes with the description of the criminal justice system's response to the problem and implications of research for public policy.
Richard Wright and Volkan Topalli
People who commit burglary, robbery, carjacking, and other serious predatory street crimes are disproportionately young, poor, and male. Notwithstanding the strong link between these demographic characteristics and street crime, not all young, poor, males commit street crimes and not all street criminals are young, poor, or male. No one can tell based on demographic information on criminals why an individual who has no intention of committing a crime one minute suddenly is determined to do so the next. This article describes the socio-emotional context underlying street criminals' decision to move from an unmotivated state to a motivated one. It also examines why someone chooses to commit a particular type of street crime over other possible licit or illicit courses of action. The article concludes by assessing the implications of its findings for criminological theory and criminal justice policy.
Scott H. Decker and David Pyrooz
Until the middle of the twentieth century, research on gangs was ethnographic in nature, with a strong journalistic approach. However, there has been a shift in the ethnographic study of gangs from serious fieldwork in America to the European setting. This article focuses on the state of contemporary gang ethnography by analyzing three periods of ethnographic research on gangs: the classic era, the “interstitial” period, and the contemporary period. It traces the evolution of the ethnographic approach to the study of youth behavior in the United States over the past century. It also looks at the interstitial period to provide a contrast to the state of gang ethnography in Europe.
This article discusses key methodological issues that are germane to understanding some of the parameters for developing a sound knowledge base on temporal crime patterns. It then surveys the landscape of what we currently know, focusing initially on the description and explanation of crime trends in the United States and elsewhere through the late 1950s, then addressing comparable themes since that time, which are labeled as the “contemporary period”. The concluding section outlines directions for future research.
Denise A. Hines
This article presents data on the prevalence of domestic violence and trends over time. It discusses five major analytical frameworks that have been employed to understand domestic violence: patriarchy theory, systems theory, alcoholism, personality dysfunction, and ecological models. It further mentions criminal justice system policies such as mandatory arrest, no-drop policies, protective orders, and batterer treatment programs. This article deals with female batterers and distinctive problems they raise for law enforcement and treatment policies. It is also concerned with how societal structures, socioeconomic status, stressful situations, and family dynamics contribute to domestic violence. Programs that focus on psychological issues, anger problems, communication problems, and couple interaction problems are often ignored by domestic violence advocates and prohibited by state laws. Finally, it concludes with the discussion of the policy implications of current knowledge.
Philip J. Cook and Jens Ludwig
This article begins by characterizing the nature and scope of the gun violence problem, including a discussion of the potential benefit from use of guns in self-defense. The next section is devoted to a discussion of guns and it gives some basic facts on the patterns of private gun ownership and gun misuse. The article then discusses policies designed to discourage gun misuse directly by making guns a liability to criminals. Studies using a same basic research design have found evidence of some decline in gun use in crime. The article shows the importance of assessing the effects of overall rates of gun ownership within a community. The descriptive and analytical information summarized here opens the door to favorable consideration of a variety of other interventions.
Violence involving intimate partners may appear at first glance to be an intractable problem. But the character and incidence of intimate-partner violence have varied dramatically among societies and over time in ways that can help scholars, policymakers, and the public understand the circumstances that place intimate partners at risk. Intimate-partner violence can be triggered by government policies that are designed to encourage freedom, equality, and prosperity if officials are blind to the impact of those policies on gender relations. Intimate-partner violence can also be increased by the devastation and demoralization of conquered communities or concentrated and intensified in the households of men who fail or refuse to come to grips with the empowerment of women and the economic and cultural changes that facilitate it. The challenge will be to design public policies that have a benign impact on domestic partnerships and that recognize the risks as well as the benefits of the movement toward gender equality.
This article explores the role that guns play in American society and especially in crime. Section I discusses the possession and use of firearms. Sections II and III examine guns as deterrents to crime including how carrying guns might affect crime levels. Section IV discusses how gun markets are regulated and operated, and Section V examines what we know about effective gun crime prevention and control. The article concludes with a discussion of the policy implications of current knowledge and sketches a research agenda to advance our understanding the role guns play in crime.
Hate crime is a product of civil right, disabilities rights, and crime victims' movements. This article primarily focuses on criminal justice concerns related to hate crime. Assessments of hate crime-related criminal justice policy and law enforcement practices require an understanding of the emergence of hate crime. It presents a summary of early assessments of hate crime law and concerns about bias-motivated violence as “merely symbolic politics” with minimal enforcement effects. It conceptualizes this assessment and includes a brief summary of federal and state hate crime law. The next section details the organization of hate crime enforcement and the outcomes of law enforcement practices, including data on the policing and prosecution of hate crime. Finally, it discusses the development of hate crime law and law enforcement practices beyond the United States.
Do changes in patterns of violence in Europe and North America from the eighteenth century to the present day reflect an increasing marginalization of interpersonal violence in social and cultural life? Can these changes be interpreted as a consequence of the benefits of specifically modern forms of economic organization and social interaction, as well as profound alterations in cultural and political life? These questions have exercised the minds of historians on both sides of the Atlantic for at least the last forty years and have provoked a range of methodological and theoretical debates. This essay offers an overview of the key texts and debates by examining both quantitative and contextual research on interpersonal violence and provides some wider reflections on the place of such violence in Western cultures since the eighteenth century.
This article considers cultural meanings, empirical patterns, theoretical explanations, and social responses connected with homicide and aggravated assault. It addresses homicide and aggravated assault trends in the United States over the past few decades and cross-national comparisons of homicide and assault. It assesses that rate of aggravated assault and homicide is higher among males and the young than among females and older persons. It discusses characteristics of victims, perpetrators, and incidents; relationships between victims and perpetrators; theories of violence; and policies to reduce violent crime. The main empirical patterns in homicide and serious assault are summarized. The causal factors emphasized in explanations of the violent behavior of morally suspect persons (e.g., criminals) generally involve individual or social defects, whereas those of violence carried out by morally upright persons (e.g., soldiers, physicians) involve considerations of legal or moral obligation.
Stacey Lynne Williams, Daniel Kevin McKelvey, and Irene Frieze
Despite decades of research on intimate-partner violence (IPV), debates and unanswered questions abound in the literature, to which many disciplines—psychology, sociology, criminal justice, law, and public health—have contributed. One long-standing and particularly contentious debate regards gender symmetry, or whether women are as violent in intimate relationships as men. This essay begins with a historical overview of IPV research; it then summarizes recent work on gender and IPV and discusses how estimates of the prevalence and gender distribution of IPV vary depending on its definition and measurement. Reviewing the literature on the heterogeneity of IPV, this essay notes that better understanding of different IPV types may resolve some discrepancies in research. The essay also considers how gender norms may shape IPV and reviews research on experiences of sexual minorities and of those of different races, immigration statuses, and cultures. The final section identifies topics in need of further exploration over the next decade.
Lisa L. Sample and Emily C. Radar
The way in which we define rape and domestic sexual assault, the rates at which it occurs, the motives for offending, and the legislative and criminal justice responses have varied across and within nation-states over time. This essay covers the historical context of rape laws, legal definitions of rape over time, how definitions of rape vary across nations, and the inclusion of domestic sexual assault in rape definitions. It reviews the rates of rape over time across nations using official and victimization data. It discusses the motives offered to explain, rationalize, or justify forced sexual assault and analyses the legislative and criminal justice responses to rape across countries over time. The essay concludes with a discussion of how rape definitions, laws, and criminal justice responses may continue to evolve.
Peter Baudains and Shane D. Johnson
This chapter reanalyzes data concerning the 2011 riots in Greater London. The authors extended prior work in a number of directions, using variables more representative of the areas in which rioting took place, using smaller geographical units of analysis, and extending the analysis to examine the role of risky facilities. The results show support for crime pattern and social disorganization theories, as well as the precipitating influence of crowds, in explaining rioter decision-making. In addition, it is shown that different types of facilities appear to have different influences on the spatial decision-making of those engaged in the riots. In explaining these differences, the chapter draws attention to the fact that some facilities are more common on the high street and visited more spontaneously, while others require a more purposeful visit, are likely to provide more guardianship, and are more likely to have formal place management practices.
Philip J. Cook
This article provides a description of trends and patterns in robbery using police statistics and statistics from crime surveys. The focus is on data of robbery rate trends for the United States, which is the most established of the national crime surveys. The survey data support a fine-grained analysis of the age, sex, race, and number of robbers and victims involved in an incident, as well as the type of weapon and the outcomes of the confrontation with respect to theft and injury. It examines the demographics of robber perpetration and victimization and robbery outcomes (property loss, injury, and death). This article discusses robbers' strategic choices about whom to rob, how, and with what weapon and interventions aimed at preventing robberies. Policies to reduce the scope of the underground market will thus be helpful in the effort to curtail robbery.
This essay focuses on the role of law and policy in sexual assault and offending. Comparing and contrasting U.S., Canadian, and European policy approaches, the review examines how various governments have prioritized their legal approaches to sexual offending prevention and response. These responses have included broad-based conviction-focused schemes, narrowly focused laws centered on high-risk repeat offenders, and prioritization with stranger-based assault. There has been great variance in terms of the emphasis placed on treatment and public notification. The essay analyses how these nations have learned from each other and how their sex offending policies have evolved, if and how they reflect the science of sexual offending and risk, and which demonstrate the most promise for sexual assault reduction with the fewest unintended consequences.
This article studies the development of punishment policies for sex offenders. It observes the difficulty of creating treatment and management strategies for the surveillance of sex offenders, especially when these define a broad group. It then reviews some relevant treatment literature, which determines that it is not very promising for more serious sex offenders, since the interventions that have been tried so far have not decreased reoffending. However, these interventions appear to reassure the public.
Rosemary Gartner and Maria Jung
Although homicide is less common than other types of violent crime, research on its relationship to sex and gender is relevant to key debates within criminology over the value of general theories of violence, the relationship between social change and crime, and the importance of cross-national analyses of violence. This essay summarizes macro- and micro-level research on homicide offending and victimization since the mid-twentieth century and engages with the questions of whether and how sex and gender should be fundamental to theories of homicide or interpersonal violence more generally. Similarities and differences in the correlates and contexts of homicides by and against women and men are discussed, drawing on data from around the world. The essay concludes that sex and gender have always been and will continue to be central to understanding homicide, but more comprehensive conceptualizations of both gender—that is, as more than an attribute of individuals—and gender inequality are necessary to advance the field.