Unraveling Fear of Crime Among College Women

Bonnie Fisher, University of Cincinnati
John J. Sloan III, University of Alabama at Birmingham

Ferraro (1995) and Warr (1984) have argued that women's fear of crime may be driven by fear of "perceptually contemporaneous offenses," primarily rape or sexual assault. Fear of rape may operate as a "master offense" among women, which heightens their fear of other offenses and multiple studies have cofirmed the relationship between fear of crime and fear of rape. However, researchers have rarely assessed the extent, nature, and level of fear of crime among college women, who, theoretically, should have higher levels of fear because young women have higher rates of rape victimization than do older women. Using college student victimization data from a nationally representative sample, this study explores fear of crime among college women by focusing on the extent their fear of crime is actually fear of rape. In doing so, we assess factors -- personal, lifestyle, and contextual -- that may affect young women's fear of crime.

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Updated 05/20/2006