Ideal Victim

9 September 2016

An ‘ideal victim’ is someone who has played no part in their victimisation by an offender who was wholly responsible for the incident. The public can relate to the ‘ideal victims’ ordeal and although they have been through an awful sometimes incomprehensible experience society views the ‘ideal victim’ “as pure, blameless (hence passive) people against whom an evil act was omitted by a depraved individual” (Spalek, B. 2006 p25). Although most people can relate to an ‘ideal victim’ there is a ‘positivist perspective’ in victimology that defines the behaviour and circumstances of people can have a direct contribution to their victimisation.

However, the ‘feminist perspective’ would argue that by suggesting a victim had aided in their victimisation would require the victim to accept some form of accountability for their victimisation. A ‘radical perspective’ broadens our understanding of victimhood. It requires us to acknowledge imbalances of power within society and how it increases the likely hood of victimisation. “Power relations are fundamental to the way society is structured; that those power relations are unjust; and that those unjust power relations are the context within which we should think about crime and victimisation” (Edwards, P. 012). National crime surveys assist governments in gathering information about a wide range of crime-related issues (Spalek, B. 2006 p47). My discussion will encompass the important functions of national crime surveys and how local surveys can provide “precise local knowledge” (Spalek, B. 2006 p56) in respect to victimisation. An ‘ideal victim’ attracts society’s attention and sympathy. They are viewed as having played no part in their victimisation. The more susceptible and innocent the victim the more the public can see them as a victim. Race, class and gender” influence how an ‘ideal victim’ is perceived and describes how “elderly people, children and women often receive more sympathetic response to their victimization than working class men” (Spalek, B. 2006 p22). Governments utilise ‘ideal victim’ circumstances to pave way for new laws and policies, gaining support from public opinion of the ‘ideal victim’. Currently, in South Australia, Senator Nick Xenophon is aiming to introduce laws to stop online predators. This legislation, known as Carly’s Law, was formed after 15 year old Carly Ryan was groomed online by 47 year old, Gary Francis Newman.

Ideal Victim Essay Example

She ultimately agreed to meet the 47 year old who posed as 20 year old musician. Newman lured Carly to a beach in South Australia where she was murdered. Newman is currently serving a custodial sentence of 29 years non-parole. (Source: News. com) Carly Ryan is an ‘ideal victim’, a juvenile female who was victimised by an “’ideal offender’, who is ‘evil’“(Spalek, B. 2006 p23). Many victims refuse to be termed ‘victim’ instead prefer to promote the term ‘survivor’. They prefer to be identified “as an agent who has resisted their abuse to become emotionally and psychologically stronger’ (Spalek, B. 2006 p26).

The ‘survivor’ shows great determination to overcome difficulties and from their victimisation they are able to help others. This, however, “can be unhelpful, since individuals can be put under pressure to be a certain type of victim, an idealised hero… ” when they themselves are yet to fully understand and triumph over their victimisation (Spalek, B. 2006 p11). A ‘victim’, as defined in The South Australian Victims of Crime Act, 2001; “in relation to an offence, means a person who suffers harm as a result of the commission of the offence (but does not include a person who was a party to the commission of the offence)”.

This definition supports the ideals of the ‘ideal victim’, as an ‘ideal victim’ “must be innocent; they must not be guilty of having contributed to their loss” (Bayley, J. 1991 p54). A ‘positivist perspective’ proposes victims have placed themselves in a position where they are contributing to their victimisation. This clearly differs from an ‘ideal victim’, and the ‘feminist perspective’ would argue that by suggesting a victim had aided in their victimisation would require the victim to accept some form of accountability for their victimisation.

When examining the victim’s actions, the differences between a ‘positivist perspective’ and ‘feminist perspective’ become evident. A ‘positivist perspective’ implies “identifying the factors that contribute to the non-random victimization pattern, focusing on the interpersonal violent crimes, and endeavouring to identify the victims who are prone to contribute to their own victimization” (Kostic, M. 2010 p69). This shows the victim as being the kind of person that they are; this can also include lifestyle factors such as victims who brazenly display their wealth. Positivist Perspective’ examines which social and psychological characteristics of victims make them different from and more vulnerable than, non-victims. An example of positivist victimology is Marvin Wolfgang’s (1958) study of 588 homicides in Philadelphia. Wolfgang found that 26% involved victim precipitation – the victim triggered the events leading to the murder (Spalek, B. 2006 p34). A ‘feminist perspective’ has “highlighted forms of abuse experienced by women that have largely been hidden” (Spalek, B. 2006 p42).

The defining difference between the ‘feminist perspective’ and positivist are clear. Both ‘feminist’ and ‘positivist’ perspectives acknowledge the victimisation occurs as a result of characteristics of the victim, but the ‘feminist perspective’ places the all aspects of guilt upon the perpetrator. The ‘feminist perspective’ “belief that the crimes committed against women and children can only be understood, and reduced, if the broader context of patriarchy is acknowledged, this being male economic, political and legal power, underpinned by male violence” (Spalek, B. 006 p30). ‘Radical perspective’ of victimology “has been criticised for adopting an overly simplistic view of structure and its impact on individuals” (Spalek, B. 2006 p40). However, a ‘radical perspective’ broadens our understanding of victimhood as it requires us to acknowledge within the general society “power relations are fundamental to the way society is structured; that those power relations are unjust; and that those unjust power relations are the context within which we should think about crime and victimisation” (Edwards, P. 2012).

It encompasses “broad social problems like poverty, injustice and state abuses” (Spalek, B. 2006 p40). Home invasion, environment pollution and domestic violence are all offences where a victim can be identified. To understand each victim we must understand which victimisation perspective corresponds. A ‘positivist perspective’ encompasses a home invasion. An unknown offender/s entered the home of an unknown person for the purpose of committing an offence. Why the offender/s chose this house? The victim may have left the front door open or left valuables in plain sight of the front yard.

They are still a victim but the victim may have played a part in their victimisation. A ‘radical perspective’ encompasses environmental pollution. Victims of environmental pollution play no part in their victimisation but due to their circumstances have been affected. If a well known industrial company pollutes the ground water in a local area, the local residents become unwilling victims to the pollution. The company which has greater socio-economic status and power have victimised the local residents. A ‘feminist perspective’ encompasses domestic violence. The victim, a woman, enters into a relationship with a ale. The offender uses his patriarchy to underpin the violence against the victim. National Crime Survey’s aid governments in calculating “perceptions and experiences of crime” (Spalek, B. 2006 p47).

They appear to gather greater defining crime statistics than those produced by local law enforcement. This is due, in part, on victims not reporting crimes to police or the police officer it has been reported to have not recorded the event. National crime surveys include a wide range of “crime-related issues” and “allow policy makers to examine a broad range of issues” (Spalek, B. 006 p47). National crime surveys are used to create crime reduction strategies as it is used to identify “groups of people most at risk from crime” (Spalek, B. 2006 p52). The National crime survey has its limitations as it does not provide for accurate local data analysis. Local surveys can be specific in their direction and be used to “uncover differential crime risk, particularly the high risks that women, minority ethnic groups and socially disadvantaged people faced” (Spalek, B 2006 p56). In conclusion, the ‘ideal victim’ plays no part in their victimisation.

The public can relate to the ‘ideal victims’ ordeal and although they have been through an awful sometimes incomprehensible experience society views the ‘ideal victim’ “as pure, blameless (hence passive) people against whom an evil act was omitted by a depraved individual” (Spalek, B. 2006 p25). A ‘positivist perspective’ in victimology that defines the behaviour and circumstances of people can have a direct contribution to their victimisation. However, the ‘feminist perspective’ would argue that by suggesting a victim had aided in their victimisation would require the victim to accept some form of accountability for their victimisation.

A ‘radical perspective’ broadens our understanding of victimhood. It requires us to acknowledge imbalances of power within society and how it increases the likely hood of victimisation. National crime survey’s aid governments in calculating “perceptions and experiences of crime” (Spalek, B. 2006 p47). National crime surveys are used to create crime reduction strategies as it is used to identify “groups of people most at risk from crime” (Spalek, B. 2006 p52). Local surveys assist in are more specific and can be focused on local issues representing that area. BIBLIOGRAPHY Bayley, J. Edited by Sank, D. , & Caplan, D. I. (1991). To be a victim: encounters with crime and injustice. New York, Plenum Press. Edwards, P. (2012) Radical Vicitimology. Victims and Victimology, 2012/13, [blog] Wednesday, 7th November, Available at: http://victims2012. blogspot. com. au/2012/11/week-7-radical-victimology. html [Accessed: 2 April 2013]. Garkawe, S. (2000) THE THREE MAJOR VICTIMOLOGICAL PARADIGMS – A THEORETICAL ‘ROAD MAP’ FOR VICTIMOLOGY. Journal of the Australasian Society of Victimology, (2), p. 8 – 58. Kostic, M. (2010) VICTIMOLOGY: A Contemporary Theoretical Approach to Crime and its Victim ?. Faculty of Law, University of Nis, Serbia , 8 (1), p. 65-78. Available at: http://facta. junis. ni. ac. rs/lap/lap2010/lap2010-04. pdf Rock, P (2007) edited by Walklate, S. (2007). Handbook of victims and victimology. Cullompton, Willan. Spalek, B, 2006. Crime Victims – Theory, Policy and Practice. 1st ed. United Kingdom: Palgrave Macmillan. Victims of Crime Act, 2001 http://www. austlii. edu. au/au/legis/sa/consol_act/voca2001171/

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