Fear of Crime Among Whites and Latinos: Testing Previous Theoretical Findings

Jodi Lane, University of Florida
James W. Meeker, University of California, Irvine

Gang crime and resulting public fear became a major policy focus during the 1990s and recent numbers indicate that gang homicides may again be on the rise; yet, there are few studies specifically focusing on fear of gangs. Most research is guided by social disorganization theory and tests the effects of perceptions about community diversity, disorder, and/or decline on fear of crime. In a prior qualitative study (Lane, 2002), we found that residents of the city of Santa Ana in Orange County, California believed that diversity, especially undocumented immigrants, brought disorder, which caused the community to decline and therefore made them afraid of gangs. In this paper we test the qualitative findings with quantitative data from a 1997 random digit dial survey of Orange County residents.l Using structural equation modeling, we examine models for the entire sample and for Whites and Latinos separately.

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Updated 05/20/2006