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Predicting the Fear of Assault at School and While Going to and From School in an Adolescent Population

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Recent research investigating the fear of crime has shown that when crime and behavior-specific measures of fear are utilized, the young are more likely than the elderly to be the most fearful. Research investigating the etiology of fear within adolescent populations, however, remains very limited. Using a sample of over 10,000 junior high and high school students from a supplement to the National Crime Victimization Survey, this paper examines the factors contributing to students' fear of assault both at school and while going to and from school. Results indicate that recent victimization experiences, the presence of a violent subculture at the school (e.g., gang presence and attacks on teachers) and availability of drugs/alcohol were related to fear in both contexts. The predictability of fear from individual characteristics, however, was context specific. Contrary to findings from earlier research, it was found that young females were not more fearful than their male counterparts in all contexts. While they were more fearful of an attack while going to and from school, there were no differences in fear levels while at school between males and females after controlling for other environmental and experiential factors. Conclusions largely support the contention that fear is a rational calculation based on objective criteria. Moreover, results underscore the need for more specificity when operationalizing the context and content of fearfulness.
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Document Type: Journal Article

Affiliations: 1: Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ 2: University of Delaware, Newark, DE

Publication date: January 1, 1997

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