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. Those individuals, whom experiencecrimes first hand are less likely to then become fearful of them throughwatching them on television, whereas an individual who has no prior experiencebeing involved in crime, would become more fearful after watching particularnews or television dramas (Liska & Baccaglini, 1990). Gerbner et al (1980)found that “the relationship between the fear of crime and the amount oftelevision watched was greatest for females and white people”. Further researchhas also found out that “female, whites and elderly people were also morelikely to have a fear of crime; despite their lower likelihoods in findingthemselves victims 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). Research has indicated that facts and figures have no influenceon the people’s perception of crime, furthermore, that the media is just one ofmany variable factors to be taken into account when analysing prevalent fear ofcrime, whether on an individual or societal basis. “A person’s personality orsocialization are variables which have to be taken into account” (McQuivey,1997).
Older people have a great fear ofbecoming a victim of crime because they believe they are more vulnerable thanyounger members in society (Carcach et. al., 2001). Their physical fitness andstrength has declined leaving them in a weakened state, and therefore possiblytargeting them as easy victims as they are less likely to be able to defendthemselves (Carcach et. al., 2001).
Gerbner et al (1980) confirmed his previousresearch in those individuals who watch more television than average showed ahigher rate of fear towards their environment, than those who watch less. Morerecently Dowler (2003) found that even when taking into account factors such asrace, age, gender, income, education and marital status, those individuals whomwatch more crime shows tend to exhibit a significantly higher rate of beingfearful of crime (Dowler, 2003). Dowler went on to discover that hours ofwatching television news programs did not have a significant relationship withhigher levels of fear of crime. 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, , 2006). Roughly half of the newspapers and television items peoplecome into contact with are concerned with crime, justice or deviance (Doyle,2006). With the bombardment of criminal images surrounding people every day,the mass media often influences how people look at crime.
The picture presentedin the media of crime differs from the picture by official and other statistics(Doyle, 2006). Crime in the media is edited, stylized and formatted in away that is camouflaged as realistic and informative (Surrette, 2006). Peopleassociate the information they see on the television to real life. If thetelevision shows elevated crime rates, real life must also. The line betweenmedia crime and real life crime has become blurred.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 argue, has led to people’s preconceived views inreference to the pertinence of crime in their environment, giving