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Opportunity Theory and Adolescent School-Based Victimization

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While school-based adolescent victimization has received a great deal of public attention, there exist relatively few theoretically driven studies aimed at explaining this phenomenon. We address this paucity by providing a test of a criminal-opportunity model of school-based victimization using data on over 3,000 students from 40 different Kentucky middle and high schools. The effects of opportunity-related concepts are estimated for both violent and property victimization, and comparisons are made for each victimization type across middle- and high-school student subsamples. Findings suggest that criminal opportunity theory is relevant to the understanding of school-based victimization. In particular, indicators of exposure to crime and target antagonism appear to be robust predictors. Further, there appears to be substantial generalizability in the effects of opportunity-related variables across violent versus property victimization as well as across middle-school versus high-school contexts.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2002

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