Victim Typeologies

Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior
Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Victim Typologies

Tabetha Cooper

Ever since criminologists, psychologists and other scientists have become interested in the study of criminal behavior, there has been a demand to figure out why certain people become victims.  Many people have studied different victims trying to learn who is more susceptible to victimization.  Out of the many people that could be discussed, focus is going to be given to Sellin and Wolfgang.  In 1964, they came up with five victim typologies that classifies who gets victimized versus why they become victims.  These five victim typologies will be named and defined as well as exploration into the difference between criminology and victimology.
            Sellin and Wolfgang identified their five typologies as: primary victimization, secondary victimization, tertiary victimization, mutual victimization, and no victimization.  Primary victimization is personal victimization (Meadows, 2007).  What this means is that an actual person or group of people become first hand victims of a crime.  This can be done because of a personal vendetta against a single person or a specific group of people, such as someone getting revenge for a significant other cheating with a person.
            Secondary victimization is when a person gets victimized inadvertently as a result of a crime (Meadows, 2007).  An example of this could be murder.  When a family member has met their death due to a heinous act the victim is not around, but the living relatives have become victims because of the crime.  Another example of this could be a person donating money for a nonprofit organization just for one of the employees of the organization to embezzle the money.  The person was not a direct victim of this crime but since it was their donated money that was embezzled they are now secondary victims.
            Tertiary victimization is society as a whole becoming victims (Meadows, 2007).  As Meadows (2007) points out, crimes committed by the government would be in this category.  An example of this is an elected official buying votes.  The author recalls a case of this that happened during the primary elections of 2006 in her former place of residence in Owingsville, Kentucky.  Donald “Champ” Maze, a county attorney was caught in a scheme of vote buying along with two other government officials Judge Executive Walter Shrout and his electoral opponent Michael Swartz.  He was charged with vote buying, evidence tampering, and lying to a federal grand jury.  He and his wife, circuit clerk Beth Maze reported the vote buying in an attempt to clear Champ of any charges once the amount of absentee votes came into question.  He was later caught and served time in prison, but the damage had been done and the community felt victimized.  The citizens not involved in the vote buying felt cheated because they had taken time out of their busy schedules to place a vote when the election was “rigged” and their vote really didn’t matter in the long run.  The community felt further victimized when it was ruled that his wife Judge Maze didn’t know of the vote buying and was able to keep her position as circuit judge. For more information on this story, go to http://www.wkyt.com/wymtnews/headlines/5654181.html.
            Mutual victimization is when a criminal is retaliated against and becomes a victim him or herself (Meadows, 2007).  This would be when an offender commits armed robbery, causing psychological damage to the clerk.  The father of the clerk becomes overwhelmingly upset and decides to “get even” with the robber.  He attempts murdering the robber but instead badly wounds him.  The robber has then been a victim of mutual victimization.
            No victimization is victimization that is hard to define (Meadows, 2007).  Meadows (2007) states the “victimless” crimes fall into this category.  An example is crimes where people grow marijuana in their own homes for personal use.  No one was actually harmed but a crime has been committed.  Another example would be a john picking up a prostitute, both participants are consenting adults but prostitution is against the law.  That is what makes this a victimless crime (Meadows, 2007).
            Siegel (2008) defines criminology as, “the scientific study of the nature, extent, cause, and control of criminal behavior”.  He goes on to define victimology as “the study of the victim’s role in criminal events.”  With these two definitions the differences stand out; criminology is the study of criminal behavior whereas victimology studies the victims of the crimes.  A news article printed in 2009 told a story of a Kansas State University student, Travis Linnermann, who studied meth related crimes within his state.  He focused on the gender issues with this crime; how female users and manufactures versus men user and manufactures, are looked at through local newspaper articles.  His research was so impressive that his paper was published in early 2010 in the Critical Criminology journal (M2PressWIRE, 2009).  Linnermann is a sociology student but his fantastic work on this subject fall into the category of criminology as well as sociology.  His paper reported on meth addicts (nature) and it studied several news local news articles on the crime (extent).  Nothing was found where he tried to find a cause or a way to control the crime.  The fact that he studied how the news showed woman involved with this crime versus how they look at men falls under the category of both criminology and sociology (mostly sociology).  The research, however, can be a base for a study on victimology by taking the information he has already gathered and trying to gather information on which, if any, of those offenders become victimized themselves.
            Through the exploration of Sellin & Wolfgang’s victim typologies and learning the difference between criminology and victimology a person can see the demand for more studies within the field’s concerning criminal behavior.  The demands to figure out why certain people become victims still exists, but with each study done on the subject the closer society is to receiving an answer.  Who knows what science will find to be fact tomorrow!

M2PressWIRE. (2009). Retrieved 9.06.10 from                                                              http://web.ebscohost.com.kaplan.uah.edu/ehost/detail?vid=3&hid=15&sid=88267           079-7d83-4499-862f-      ad6d08fee125%40sessionmgr11&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d        #db=nfh&AN=16PU1338801438#db=nfh&AN=16PU1338801438
Meadows, R.J. (2007) Understanding Violence and Victimization 4th Ed. Upper Saddle,             NJ. Pearson Prentice Hall.
Siegel, L. J. (2008). Criminology: The Core 3rd Ed. Belmont, Ca. Cengage Learning.
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1 comment:

  1. A different type of typology of victims is
    - Non guilty- innocent victim
    - Victims With Minor Guilt
    - Victims who share equal responsibility with the perpetrators
    - Victims who are slightly more guilty than the offender
    - Victims who are exclusively responsible for their victimization
    More info at http://www.zurinstitute.com/victimhood.html


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