Criminal Circumstance and School Victimization

Pamela Wilcox, University of Kentucky

In Criminal Circumstance: A Dynamic Multicontextual Criminal Opportunity Theory, Wilcox Land and Hunt put forth an integrative, multilevel theory for understanding criminal acts in spatio-temporal context. These authors integrate micro and macro versions of routine activities theory with micro and macro social control theories in order to establish a multilevel theoretical explanation suggesting that criminal acts result from criminal opportunity at multiple levels of analysis--motivated offender exposure, target attractiveness, and ineffective guardianship at both individual and environmental levels. Throughout their exposition, they discuss neighborhoods and schools as two particularly important environmental contexts for the exertionof main effects of opportunity, above and beyond individual-level effects of opportunity. Perhaps most importantly, these authors also put forth specific multilevel theoretical propositions regarding the ways in which environmental-level opportunity conditions or moderates the effects of individual-level criminal opportunity. The present study is an empirical test of the theory put forth by Wilcox et al. In particular, this research tests main and moderating effects on victimization of opportuhnity at both individual and environmental levels. The analysis uses data from over 3600 students within 60 Kentucky middle-school contexts. The surevey data were collected in 2001 and 2002 as Wave I and Wave 2 of a longitudinal research effort entitled the "Rural Substance Abuse and Violence Project" (RSVP).

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Updated 05/20/2006