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Risk Factors for Youth Victimization: Beyond a Lifestyles/Routine Activities Theory Approach

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Past efforts to understand the risks for youth victimization have primarily utilized concepts from lifestyle or routine activity theory, such as the increased exposure and reduced guardianship that are entailed when youth engage in risky or delinquent behavior. In this article, we argue that other personal characteristics put youth at risk, not through any lifestyle or routine activity mechanism, but by making certain youth more "congruent" with the needs, motives, or reactivities of potential offenders. Three specific types of such characteristics are those that increase the potential victim's target vulnerability (e.g., physical weakness or psychological distress), target gratifiability (e.g., female gender for the crime of sexual assault), or target antagonism (e.g., behaviors or ethnic or group identities that may spark hostility or resentment). Using data from a national youth survey, we test variables measuring such aspects of target congruence and show that they make a significant contribution over and above lifestyle variables alone in predicting nonfamily, sexual, and parental assault.

Document Type: Journal Article

Affiliations: University of New Hampshire

Publication date: January 1, 1996

More about this publication?
  • Violence and Victims discusses theory, research, policy, and clinical practice in the area of interpersonal violence and victimization across such disciplines as psychology, sociology, criminology, law, medicine, nursing, psychiatry, and social work.

    The journal's 2014 Impact Factor is 0.858.
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