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Hentigs Victim Classification Essay

Victimology Questions and Answers

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1. What four broad questions does general victimology raise?
Four broad questions raised by general victimology includes; defining the victim of a crime and the type of crime placed against them or application of said definition. Are they a victim of another person or of the environment? For example, was the victim walking down the street and a stranger came up and snatched their purse. This would be the victim of a crime. Whereas, if it rained for three days straight and an individual was killed after being swept away by flood waters they would be a victim of the environment. A victim may also be a victim of oneself through the act of suicide, or of technology if a local coal company pollutes the area water and they die from drinking said polluted water (Doerner & Lab, 2012).
Once we have determined who is a victim and how that determination is applicable to them we must determine the victim reaction after the crime. Will they seek help and report the crime? How will they react to the community’s response? The latter which leads to the fourth broad question of general victimology which is how society will, in turn, react to the victim after the crime (Doerner & Lab, 2012).
Doerner, W.G. & Lab, S.P. (2012). Victimology. 6th ed. Burlington, MA:Anderson Publishing

2. Explain von Hentig’s victim typology
Hans von Hentig was a criminologist who wanted to find the “key ingredient” as to what made a victim of crime a victim (Doerner & Lab, 2012). He believed that the victim contributed perhaps not actively but to some degree to becoming a victim of a crime. In this determination he created a typology, a list of characteristics from social context to biological and psychological factors that would predispose a person to becoming a victim of crime. Those included the young, being female, elderly, immigrants and minorities, someone who is depressed or lonely, mentally incapacitated, greedy, and the promiscuous (Dodson, 2001).
This typology poses a bit of disenchantment, per se, in that it puts the blame on the victim to a particular degree. While this may not have been von Hentig’s intention, his typology creates a just world fallacy wherein someone believes if they do not fall into any of these categories than nothing bad should ever befall them (Mallicoat & Ireland, 2014. Or, as previously states, society blames the victim for having placed themselves in harm’s way and somehow deserve the fallout.

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For example, if a depressed woman goes to a bar and becomes the victim of rape after being served a drink with a date rape drug, society may place blame on her for the crime. Her characteristics falling into von Hentig’s typology of what makes for a victim of crime and the key ingredients in this case being a female, possibly depressed or lonely, and becoming mentally incapacitated through the drink.
Dodson, K. D. (2001). An examination of juvenile delinquency and victimization using an integrated model approach. East Tennessee State University. Retrieved from
Doerner, W.G. & Lab, S.P. (2012). Victimology. 6th ed. Burlington, MA:Anderson Publishing
Mallicoat, S.L. & Ireland, C. E. (2014). Women and Crime: The Essentials. Thousand Oaks, CA:SAGE Publishing.

3. Did Wolfgang’s study and Amir’s research support or refute the concept of victim precipitation?

Much like von Hendig’s victim typology, Marvin E. Wolfgang looked to prove the argument that the victim was to some degree responsible for the crime(s) being perpetrated against them or victim precipitation. He studied police homicide records for empirical support while one of his students, Menachem Amir, studied forcible rapes (Doerner & Lab, 2012).
For Wolfgang, his determination was that the victim of the crime made actions that put them in harm’s way. For example, an individual may start a fight through some sort of verbal accusation or slur. This action would mitigate a reaction from the other individual and the two get into a fight. However, when all is said and done, the initial individual who yelled out the verbal accusation or slur is dead. The victim of the crime had, in fact, been the precipitator of his own death through his own actions (Kaufman, 1998).
For Amir, his studies revolved around forcible rape and the definition of precipitation as “provocation” even “seduction”. Meaning, the victim of rape had some level of causation as to being the victim of a violent act. He looked at 646 cases of forcible rape over 1958 in the city of Philadelphia and found instances of race, age and alcohol as leading precipitator factors, as well as, where the victim and perpetrator met, proximity of living quarters, and location of the crime. He also looked at the relationship between the victim and perpetrator, the victim’s behavior beforehand. He broke these into groups of VP (Victim precipitation) and Non-VP (Non-victim precipitation) the latter meaning the rape occurred in a context of “out of nowhere” (Amir, 1968).
For both men, there was evidence of patterns related to victim behaviors or typologies that placed them in harm’s way. However, these did not account for when these behaviors were acted out by others and no harm came to them. In other words, a depressed and/or lonely woman may go to a bar, become intoxicated and walk home, without any criminal act befalling her. Nor does it account for pre-meditated acts of crime by criminals, that “intent does not always equate to action” and attempts to create an equal “drive or desire” for the criminal act when reasons may be variant between criminals (Doerner & Lab, 2012).
Amir, M. (1968). Victim precipitated forcible rape. Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology. 58(4). Retrieved from
Doerner, W.G. & Lab, S.P. (2012). Victimology. 6th ed. Burlington, MA:Anderson Publishing
Kaufman, M.T. (1998). Marvin E. Wolfgang, 73, dies: Leading figure in criminology. New York Times. Retrieved from
4. Compare and contrast the term victim justice system with criminal justice system.
The victim justice system revolves around a period of time when victims were the determining factor of restitution against a crime – either them or their families – rather than the state or community leaders. In short, if as a victim of a crime the family may take matters into their own hands under the victim justice system to make the family once more “whole”. Whereas the criminal justice system does not seek to make the victim whole or restorative but the act of crime as one against the state or society. The latter of which must decide how the criminal will pay for their actions with the victim acting as a witness to that crime (Doerner & Lab, 2012).
Doerner, W.G. & Lab, S.P. (2012). Victimology. 6th ed. Burlington, MA:Anderson Publishing

5. What was the original purpose behind developing the Uniform Crime Reports (UCR)?
The Uniform Crime Reports or UCR was originally developed so as to share criminal reports from one police jurisdiction to another (Doerner & Lab, 2012) and to “generate reliable criminal statistics” (National, 2003).
In this context it allowed for uniformity in reporting crimes, punishment and would eventually lead to a social indicator. In other words, it gives an outlook as to what direction the country is going on a social level. For instance, if criminal activity has risen, why are the reasons on a social level (National, 2003)? With nine classifications: Murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, vehicle theft, violent and property crimes including arson (Doerner & Lab, 2012).
Doerner, W.G. & Lab, S.P. (2012). Victimology. 6th ed. Burlington, MA:Anderson Publishing
National Atlas. (2003). Summary of the Uniform Crime Reporting program. Retrieved from

6. Explain what fraud is and identify some common types of fraud
Fraud is an undeserved gain at another’s expense, and may come under a host of examples, from Internet fraud where a victim may receive an email stating they are the winner of a lottery. However, in order to receive the monies the victim must first provide a bank account or pay a certain amount of money first (FBI, n.d.). To financial fraud wherein an elder may be exploited into the promise of a good or service that is never rendered (Stop, n.d.). Fraud may also come in the form of identity fraud where an individual may apply for Social Security benefits under another person’s name. An enormous fraud against American citizens that caused, in part, the economic collapse of 2007-08 was mortgage fraud wherein mortgage lenders falsified documents and cost homeowners over $95 million (Apuzzo, 2014).
Apuzzo, M. (2014). U.S. criticized for lack of action on mortgage fraud. New York Times. Retrieved from
Federal Bureau of Investigation. (n.d.). Common fraud Schemes: Internet fraud. Retrieved from
Stop Fraud. (n.d.) Elder fraud and financial exploitation. Retrieved from

7. What movements led to the rise of concern over victim rights?
Several movements influenced the rise of concern over victim rights including the women’s movement, as female victims of rape and sexual assault found themselves on trial. An understandable move given the preceding studies by Marvin E. Wolfgang and Menachem Amir in attributing victim actions as the fault for victimization. As did the children’s rights as society found abuse of children as a social problem, as well as, the growing crime problem in the United States with legal reforms taking place beginning with the victims’ bill of rights in 1980 (Doerner & Lab, 2012).
Doerner, W.G. & Lab, S.P. (2012). Victimology. 6th ed. Burlington, MA:Anderson Publishing

8. Explain identity theft and provide examples.
Identity theft is the usage of one individual’s identity by another for some type of gain, (Doerner & Lab, 2012). This gain can come in the form of a criminal using another’s identity to apply for a credit card and make purchases wherein the bill will come to the original individual. The criminal may apply for a loan under another individual’s name or perform some sort of crime under another person’s name that will then cause harm on multiple levels to the victim. This may include a destruction of the person’s credit history and credit score, and many even cause damage to the person’s reputation (DOJ, n.d.).
An example, two parties fraudulently used other individual’s names to apply for tax refunds from the IRS (IRS, 2013). Another example is a gentleman whose identity was stolen and spent two weeks in federal prison after a bank employee used his identity to swindled millions from bank customers (Weaver, 2014).
Doerner, W.G. & Lab, S.P. (2012). Victimology. 6th ed. Burlington, MA:Anderson Publishing
United States Department of Justice. (n.d.). What are identity theft and identity fraud. Retrieved from
Internal Revenue Service or IRS. (2013). Examples of identity theft schemes – Fiscal Year 2013. Retrieved from
Weaver, J. (2014). Banking bad: One man’s ID-theft nightmare. Miami Herald: Miami-Dade. Retrieved from
9. Explain what a screen question is and why they are valuable and provide an example of a screen question.
Screen questions are pre-questions to determine if further questioning is warranted or valid (Doerner & Lab, 2012). A great example of a screen question(s) would be in the case of phone interviews or online questions for pre-screening potential hires at a new company. These pre-screening questions will determine who may be a good fit and thus move on to a face-to-face interview. This eliminates the waste of time and valuable resources of bringing someone in who may not pass the first screening questionnaires. This is likewise for screen questions in terms of crime victimization surveys by first asking a series of questions before the next set of in-depth questioning to get an idea on the dimensions of criminal acts. For example, if I wanted to know what type of criminal acts had transpired in a community over the last 12 months I would first question whether or not an individual had been a victim of a crime. I would ask how many times, what type of crime, what may have been taken (If it were a theft) and base these responses on what the next questions would pertain. So if a respondent said they were a victim of theft in the first series of questions, the next would consist of what was stolen, were they home at the time, and were they assaulted – more in-depth questioning than what was initially inquired.
These screen questions are valuable for several reasons, first determining the next series of in-depth questions related to the criminal act determined in the first set. It would also eliminate in-depth questioning from those who were not a victim of a criminal act.
Doerner, W.G. & Lab, S.P. (2012). Victimology. 6th ed. Burlington, MA:Anderson Publishing

10. Explain what the dark figure of crime is and why it is important.
Unfortunately, for all the good that the Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) does in terms of collecting information on murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, vehicle theft, violent and property crimes including arson (Doerner & Lab, 2012). It cannot account or count for that matter crime that goes unreported.
Those criminal acts that are “unknown” to law enforcement are considered the “dark figure of crime” which does not reflect the “true level of crime” in the United States (Doerner & Lab, 2012). For instance, only those crimes of significance and falling under definition in the UCR are reported and is only accounted for on a singular level. So when an individual may rob a home with a gun, physically and/or sexually assaulting victims, only one offense may be recorded, the highest ranking. Also, in terms of the unknown may be attributed not only to the populace at large but to law enforcement itself (Biderman & Reis, 1966) For instance, if an officer is assaulted it does not fall under the UCR report, if an individual is found to be disorderly conduct, even assault, but does not report though a law enforcement may be witnessed, neither does it fall under the distinction of the UCR – even though a criminal act did transpire. In short, many potential criminal acts may be perpetuated but go unreported and those fall into the dark figure of crime wherein it is not counted. Thus the percentages and prevalence of criminal acts may in fact be much higher than presented.
Biderman, A.D. & Reis, Jr. A.J. (1966). The Annals of the American Academy: On exploring the “Dark Figure” of crime. Retrieved from;jsessionid=BE19739C2C3B6BB5AD422409EDE62919?sequence=2
Doerner, W.G. & Lab, S.P. (2012). Victimology. 6th ed. Burlington, MA:Anderson Publishing

Short Essay on Important Theories of Victimology !

With the advance of victimological studies, the theory of ‘victim precipitation’ came to be perceived as a negative approach to victim because it only focused on how victim’s own contribution led to his victimization. Therefore, most of the criminologists refuse to accept this theory, it being destructive in nature.

Marvin Wolfgang, who opposed the theory of ‘victim precipitation’, believed in the phenomenon, of ‘victim facilitation’ rather than ‘victim blaming’. He did not blame the victim but asserted that the interactions of the victim make him/her vulnerable to a crime. Thus, the idea behind victim facilitation is to study the elements that make victim more accessible or vulnerable to a crime attack.

Benjamin Meldelsohn propounded a three model theory of victimology and observed that the conditions that precipitate crime can be classified into three general categories as follows:—

(1) In terms of time and space, the victim being in the wrong place at a wrong time.

(2) Attracting factors and life-style also create a fertile ground for incidence of crime.

(3) There are certain pre-disposing factors such as being too young, being too poor, being in minority, being unemployed etc. which may lead to the victimization of a person to crime.

Later, Cohen and Felson (1979) came out with their ‘Routine Activities Theory’, which pre-supposes that a crime occurs when three conditions come together, namely (i) suitable target (ii) motivated offender (s) and (iii) absence of security or parental care or guardianship.

Earlier, when criminology was in its emerging stage, victimology simply meant study of crime from the perspective of the victim. Mendelsohn and Von Hentig were the first to explore the possibility of developing victimology as an independent branch of criminology and therefore, they are considered as the ‘father of victimology.’

To begin with, Von Hentig concentrated on the study of behaviours and vulnerabilities of victims of crime, such as resistance of rape victims or victims of murder. He concluded that crime victims were mostly “depressive type’ who fell an easy target to crime due to their own carelessness.

Schater (1968) concluded that there were victims who substantially contributed to their victimization knowingly or unknowingly due to lack of care and vigil. Many victims face unsympathetic treatment by the police; prosecutors and court officials, which further aggravates their woes.

Even if the offender is apprehended and brought to trial, the victims of their crime remain marginalised and do not have opportunity to ventilate that views and concerns during the criminal justice process. Most of the courts do not allow the victim to present his/her civil claim along with the criminal trial. Even if the offender is convicted and punished, his punishment provides no relief to the victim except mental satisfaction.

It has been often said that criminals and victims often have some socio-demographic characteristics such as being nearly of the same group, both living in physical proximity etc.

It has now been universally accepted that victim of crime is an identifiable person who has been harmed individually and directly by the perpetrator of crime. However, there are certain crimes, such as white collar crimes, wherein victims are not clearly identifiable or not directly linked to the crime but these crimes do affect the society as a whole.

Thus, in such cases, society in general, becomes a victim to the unlawful activities of white collar criminals. Other crimes in which society itself is the victim are homicides, felonies, national frauds, etc.

The modem trend is to study victimology as a multi-disciplinary subject. It is not only focused on victims of crime but also encompasses within it, the study of victims of traffic hazards, natural disasters, war crimes, abuse of power, corruption etc. The professionals involved in victimological studies may, therefore, be legal practitioners, judges, policy makers, law teachers etc.