Community Response to Sex Offender Notification

Victoria Simpson Beck, College of Mount St. Joseph
James Clingermayer, Murray State University
Lawrence F. Travis III, University of Cincinnati

Sex offender community notification statutues have been enacted to provide community members with relevant information for assessing risk of sexual victimization, and guiding social behavior. Prior research examining the relationship between sex offender notification and protective behavior has found that community members receiving notification are significantly more likely to engage in precautionary measures to prevent crime victimization to themselves and household members (Beck and Travis, 2002). Research has also indicated that sex offender notification is significantly related to self-fear of victimization (Beck and Travis, 2003). Research has not, however, taken into consideration the interrelationship between protective behavior, fear of victimization and perceived risk of victimization. This study expands the literature on notification statutes by comparing the cognitive, emotional, and behavioral reactions of community members receiving sex offender notification with community members who have not received notification. Drawing upon survey analysis, the findings in this study indicate that receiving notification that a sex offender has moved into a community significantly influences the behaviors individuals engage in to protect household members from crime victimization, but does not produce a significant effect on fear of victimization or perceived risk of victimization.

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Updated 05/20/2006