Images and Consequences of Crime Victims in the Media

Venessa Garcia, Kean University

Images of victims can be found in our cultural values and can affect the treatment of victims by the criminal justice system. Common images of victims have labeled some as "deserving" and others as "undeserving" and have influenced formal and informal criminal justice policies and procedures. Societal reaction to these common images of "undeserving" victims has led to pressures for the reformation of the various agencies of the criminal justice system. To understand these images it is vital to look to places that touch society at large: the media. Research on crime in the media has examined perceptions of criminals, professionals, women, and other minority groups. However, images of victims, specifically female victims, in the media have been neglected. This study examines the common images of female victims of violent crime in the media, images that members of society perceive to be reality. In order to examine media constructions of images of victims I conducted analyses of approximately 90 currently running television drama crime show episodes from 20 television crime show series and 100 newspaper crime stories from 2 major newspapers within large urban cities. This study examines images of victims by sex, race, age, and crime type.

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Updated 05/20/2006