Why are we so fearful? challenging traditional approaches to fear of crime and personal safety in Canada

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Stevenson, Kathryn P.
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The purpose of this study is to test, within a feminist criminology framework, the hypothesis that vulnerability, expressed through age, gender and socio-economic status directly and indirectly affects fear of crime in Canada. Using multiple regression and path analysis, this research also evaluates the significance of predictors generally accepted in American and British fear of crime research, including previous victimization, neighbourhood incivilities, perception of crime rate, neighbourhood attachment and satisfaction with police. Results from the 1994 Winnipeg Area Study indicate that gender and age but not socio-economic status were significant predictors with specific types of crime. Neighbourhood disorder was also a useful predictor. Winnipeggers expressed a general fear of crime, indicated by worry about both specific property and personal crimes. Based on this data, the vulnerability hypothesis has not been supported. The crime-specific explanation for fear of crime was also not accepted. FurtherCanadian research using multiple measures of fear is required. Social change is required to reduce fear of crime. On a local level, the Winnipeg Police Service and related community agencies should expand their strategy and adopt a multidimensional approach to personal safety beginning with the recognition of the pervasiveness of domestic and interpersonal violence.