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Rural Perceptions of Crime

NCJ Number
Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice Volume: 17 Issue: 1 Dated: February 2001 Pages: 37-48
Date Published
February 2001
12 pages

This article considers rural perceptions of crime.


The article examines the assumption that opinions of crime and disorder in rural areas are similar. It contrasts this assumption with the theory that views are based on the environment in which individuals live, work, and go to school. The article tests the theories with responses to community policing surveys of approximately 150 officers, 150 youth, and more than 5,000 adults in Maine. Respondents did not generally agree on the seriousness of crime and disorder; they did agree that speeding was a concern. Officers, perhaps reflecting their environment, their knowledge of crime, and the police subculture, viewed crime and disorder problems as more of a concern than did adults, with youth falling in between. Officers rated issues such as domestic violence and child abuse (crimes hidden from the general public) as more serious than did adults and youth, who noted more visible crimes such as destruction of property and theft. Adults’ concerns varied by the size of the community in which they lived and the type of service they received. The article recommends a more robust test of the views of individuals in rural areas, one that would compare the views of officers, adults, and youth in the same community and would take into account individual characteristics and fear of crime. In addition, more controls should be built into the methodology to ensure the validity of the findings. Tables, notes, references

Date Published: February 1, 2001