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Structural Constraints, Risky Lifestyles, and Repeat Victimization

NCJ Number
Journal of Quantitative Criminology Volume: 34 Issue: 1 Dated: 2018 Pages: 251-274
Date Published
24 pages
This article reports on a study that sought to determine (1) whether victims who reside in communities characterized by structural constraints (e.g., concentrated disadvantage) are more likely to continue engaging in risky behaviors (e.g., offending, illicit drug use, and getting drunk) after being victimized; and (2) whether victims who continue to engage in risky lifestyles have an increased likelihood of repeat victimization.

Research indicates that victims who make changes to their risky behavioral routines are better able to avoid being victimized again in the future; nevertheless, some victims' abilities to change their behaviors may be limited by what Hindelang et al. referred to as "structural constraints" ( Victims of Personal Crime: an Empirical Foundation for a Theory of Personal Victimization. Ballinger, Cambridge, 1978). In examining this issue, the current study analyzed 10 waves of data (spanning nearly 7 years) from the Pathways to Desistance Study; and multilevel models were estimated to examine changes to risky lifestyles and repeat victimization among a subsample of victims. The findings indicate that community-level structural constraints impose limits on the changes that victims make to their risky lifestyles, and that these changes influence repeat victimization. The study concludes that, in the context of repeat victimization, structural constraints are both real and consequential, and that future theory and research should continue to explore how context shapes and influences victims' behavioral routines. (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2018