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Fear of Crime Among Individuals With Physical Limitations

NCJ Number
Criminal Justice Review Volume: 28 Issue: 2 Dated: Autumn 2003 Pages: 232-253
Beverly L. Stiles; Shaheem Halim; Howard B. Kaplan
Date Published
22 pages
This study applied multivariate logistic regression models to survey data to examine the relationship between fear of crime and persons' perceptions of health, compared with an actual measure of health (i.e. having a physical disability or limitation).
The study hypothesized that individuals with physical disabilities or limitations would be more likely to experience increased vulnerability to crime than those without physical disabilities or limitations or those who simply perceived their health to be poor. The subjects for this study were drawn from respondents in the fourth wave (1980-87) of data collection in an ongoing panel study. The original sample consisted of the seventh grade students in a random half (18) of the 36 junior high schools in the Houston Independent School District in 1971. A total of 7,618 students returned usable questionnaires. In the 1980's, researchers traced and reinterviewed 6,074 of the respondents from the 1971 study. Subjects provided the data for the tests of the hypotheses in the course of personal household interviews. Fear of crime was measured by a single indicator in which subjects indicated they were unhappy with the degree to which they were safe in their communities from people who might steal or destroy their property. The independent variables of interest were the presence of physical disability or limitation and the perception of health status. The analysis controlled for prior victimization, poverty, and a tendency to perceive oneself as vulnerable. The findings support the relationship between physical disability and fear of crime found in previous qualitative research. Individuals with physical disabilities or limitations were significantly more likely to report fear of crime than individuals without physical disabilities or limitations. The findings also provide support for the hypothesis that one's perception of health is not a significant predictor of fear of crime. 2 tables, 105 references, and appended table on correlations of variables