Routine Activities, Social Bonds and Campus Crime

Roger M. Kern, Eastern Michigan University
Joseph H. Rankin, Eastern Michigan University

Macro-level, official statistics indicate that college campuses with large residential populations are likely to experience higher rates of campus crime than less residential or "commuter" campuses. At the micro level of analysis, routine activities theorists (Cohen and Felson, 1979) or opportunity theorists (Cohen, Luegel and Land, 1981) would argue that this is due to the increased time spent on campus by students and the resulting greater number of opportunities for victims and offenders to intersect with one another given the close residential, spatial context. Alternately, from a social control perspective (Hirschi 1969), it could be argued that residential campuses have higher rates of crime and victimization because of reduced direct and indirect controls (attachments) exercised by the students' respective families. Self-reported data (N = 800) on offending, victimization, living situations, and measures of social bonds were collected from a random sample of students at a medium-sized regional Midwestern college with substantial populations of both commuter and residential students. Logistic regression models of both offending and victimization with demographic controls provide more support for the social control explanation of campus crime than the routine activities model. The implications of this finding for campus crime policy and prevention strategies are discussed.

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Updated 05/20/2006