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Gender, Race, and Victim Cooperation. Research proposal
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GENDER, RACE, AND VICTIM COOPERATION
2
Abstract
The purpose of the present paper is to propose a research study which will analyze the
relationship between gender, race, and victim cooperation with law enforcement agents. The
goal the research is to determine whether victims from a given gender or race are more likely
to report crime and cooperate with law enforcement agents. If gender, race, or both is found
to have an effect on victim cooperation with law enforcement officers, it can be implied that
the lack of diversity in law enforcement negatively impacts the judicial system. If this is the
case, policy recommendations can be made. While some law enforcement agencies might
have their own policies regarding diversity, the findings of this paper might defend the
necessity of creating an effective national policy that could ensure that victim cooperation is
not impaired because of their demographic characteristics.
Introduction
Victimology refers to the study of victimization, and includes the study of the
relationships between victims and offenders, victims and the criminal justice system, and
victims and other social groups and institutions, including social movements and businesses.
An important aspect of victimology is assessing the existence of crime and its types.
Measuring the existence of actual crime can be done with the National Crime Victimization
Survey (NCVS) tool. This is in fact the primary source of information in crime victimization
in the United States. The tool obtains data from a nationally representative sample each year,
which consists of about 70,000 households across the entire country. Thanks to this survey, it
is possible to estimate the likelihood of victimization by robbery, rape, sexual assault and
other crimes. The NCVS has revealed that violent crime rates are in decline, and have
GENDER, RACE, AND VICTIM COOPERATION
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reached the lowest levels ever recorded (Lauritsen, Rezey & Heimer, 2013). The statistics
provided by the NCVS are important in the study of the relationship between gender, race
and victim cooperation with law enforcement agents because it can reveal to what degree
victims from specific demographics report crimes and how does this trend changes as policies
change.
Victims can suffer from serious consequences after a crime, with emotional stress
being a very common consequence, followed by psychological problems such as depression,
anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Many victims of crime suffer from specific
psychological problems, such as anxiety, self-blame, shame, anxiety and difficulty sleeping,
and some of them develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The experience of crime
can often result in an increased fear of the victim of the crime, and this fear can spread in the
community (Aviv & Weisburd, 2016).
Because the victims’ cooperation with law enforcement officers and the judicial
agents plays a crucial role in finding a criminal and convicting him, it is important to
investigate the factors that might compromise cooperation. One of these potential factors is
the characteristics of the law enforcement individuals who interact with the victim, such as
police officers, prosecution, and the judge1. For this reason, the goal of the present research
proposal is to investigate the role that gender and race of the victim has on victim’s
cooperation in finding and prosecuting a criminal. It is expected that women and racial
minority victims tend to distrust to a higher degree law enforcement agents that are not from
their same demographic group and are less likely to cooperate with them.
Literature review
1
Aviv, G., & Weisburd, D. (2016). Reducing the gap in perceptions of legitimacy of victims and non-victims:
The importance of police performance. International Review of Victimology, 1, 22, p. 3
GENDER, RACE, AND VICTIM COOPERATION
4
The role that race and ethnicity play in determining the level of trust that communities
have toward law enforcement officers have been studies for quite some years. For instance, it
has been revealed that many neighborhoods that are mainly inhabited by minority groups are
served by law enforcement officers that are usually from the majority group. Because many
police departments lack diversity, the trust of some communities toward law enforcement
officers is likely compromised, mostly because of perceived racism (whether real or not)2.
For this reason, it has been suggested that national policies should aim at creating more
diverse law enforcement departments, both in terms of race and gender3. While most studies
focused on the relationship between minority offenders and law enforcement police officers,
the results might be generalizable to the relationship between minority victims and law
enforcement agents, a possibility which should be addressed in further studies.
One recent study analyzed whether, sex, gender, and sexual orientation of the victim
influences the likelihood of reporting a crime.4 It was found that women are less likely to
report a crime-of any type- than men and that gays and lesbians are less likely to report a hate
crime than heterosexuals. The authors suggested that women might be less likely to report a
crime either because they are afraid of the offender either because they feel uncomfortable
talking about the occurrence. On the other hand, according to the authors, sexual minorities
2
von Delden, J. (2016). Sex, Gender, Sexuality, and Victimology. Sex, Sexuality, Law, and (In) justice, 436, p.
34
3
Francis, R. D. (2014). Victimology. In Birthplace, Migration and Crime (pp. 168-188). Palgrave Macmillan
UK, p. 171
4
Lauritsen, J., Rezey, M. L., & Heimer, K. (2013). Violence and economic conditions in the United States,
1973-2011. Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice, 1043986213509024, p. 14
GENDER, RACE, AND VICTIM COOPERATION
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might be less likely to report a crime related with their sexual orientation because they
believe they might also encounter prejudices within law enforcement. The results of this
research study are important in victimology because they reveal some additional
demographic factors that might influence victim’s cooperation with the justice system, such
as sexual orientation. The ways by which sexual orientation may interact with gender and
race in regards to victim cooperation is a matter of future research.
Maeder, Yamamoto & Saliba 5expanded the White-Black paradigm in assessing
public perception of the police by including Asian and Hispanic Americans. The study
examined the perception of police hassling, racial profiling and bias among White, Black,
Asian, and Hispanic Americans and the variables that influence police perceptions. The study
found both inter-minority and majority-minority variations in attitudes toward police, which
suggests that a single scale or gradation of attitudes cannot describe the complexity of
different groups’ perceptions of multiple aspects of policing, as many factors influence public
perceptions of the police, including individual, demographic, and cultural factors (Carson,
2016). An interesting finding is that employment and educational attainment has a negative
effect on public satisfaction with the police, and that police visibility correlates with greater
satisfaction of police problem-solving but also with stronger beliefs about police harassment
and racial profiling. The results of these findings might be generalizable to victims, and they
provide an interesting insight into how victims might respond differently to law enforcement
agents depending on the factors identified in this study.
5
Maeder, E. M., Yamamoto, S., & Saliba, P. (2015). The influence of defendant race and victim physical
attractiveness on juror decision-making in a sexual assault trial. Psychology, Crime & Law, 21(1), 62-79, p. 64
GENDER, RACE, AND VICTIM COOPERATION
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A few studies have also examined the role of race and ethnicity in adolescent violent
victimization. For instance, according to Tillyer & Tillyer6, young black female are more
likely to be the victims of violence, but also less likely to report crime. Teenage African
American are also less likely to trust law enforcement officers and other segments of law
enforcement compared to other ethnic groups, and this might explain the why African
American teenage females are less likely to report a crime. While African young women are
more likely than many other groups to suffer from violence, the percentage of young African
women working in law enforcement organisms is very low, and this disproportional
representation of African American women within law enforcement likely maintains the low
level of confidence that many young Black women show toward the system. Here it can be
seen how African American women may feel even less comfortable with law enforcement
than other groups such as European-American women or African-American men, as they are
one of the group least likely to be represented by it.
Currently, there is little research on the impact of foreign-born status on victimization
or the factors that influence variation in victimization between U.S.-born individuals and
foreign-born ones. For this reason, a study examined the effects of foreign-born status on
risks of victimization across Hispanic, Asian, Black, and White individuals (Tillyer & Tillyer,
2016). From a large random sample obtained in Seattle, the study found that ethnicity, race,
and foreign-born status have an interaction effect on criminal victimization, especially on
violent victimization. For instance, foreign-born Latinos have a higher risk of property
victimization than native-born Latinos, and lower risks of violent victimization. On the other
hand, indicators of lifestyle activities attenuate to some extend the effects of ethnicity, race,
6
Tillyer, M. S., & Tillyer, R. (2016). Race, Ethnicity, and Adolescent Violent Victimization. Journal of Youth
and Adolescence, 1-15, p. 12
GENDER, RACE, AND VICTIM COOPERATION
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and foreign-born status on victimization. This finding might suggest that while victimization
might often take a different form in individuals from specific ethnic and racial groups, the
status of being foreign-born might interact with race and ethnicity, and law enforcement
agents must understand this interaction in order to attend victims properly and make them
cooperate. Further studies should be conducted in order to confirm this hypothesis.
The relationship between gender, race, and victim cooperation can also be influenced
by factors pertaining to the law enforcement officers. According to Avis & Weisburd7 police
perception of victims can influences the interaction between the police officers and the
victims. This has been confirmed by the research conducted by Cobbina, Morash, Kashy &
Smith8 who used a large sample of officers from different police departments across the
country and interviewed them to discover what kind of victim traits made police officer
perceive the victim as more vulnerable. It was found that the race of the victim had no
influence on the perception of vulnerability, but gender did. Police officers were more likely
to perceive female victims as vulnerable, were more sympathetic toward them and they
tended to interpret their report as more likely to be honest but less likely to be accurate. The
results of this study suggest that law enforcement officers tend to be biased by the gender of
the victim, which can compromise the investigation.
The factors that explain the biases hold by some law enforcement agents have not
been extensively researched; however, a research study examined images found in 20
7
Aviv, G., & Weisburd, D. (2016). Reducing the gap in perceptions of legitimacy of victims and non-victims:
The importance of police performance. International Review of Victimology, 1, 22, p. 11
8
Cobbina, J. E., Morash, M., Kashy, D. A., & Smith, S. W. (2014). Race, Neighborhood Context, and
Strategies to Avoid Victimization Among Female Probationers and Parolees. Race and Justice,
2153368714540536, p. 23
GENDER, RACE, AND VICTIM COOPERATION
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textbook published between 2005 and 2012 in order to analyze the interactive effects of
gender and race.9 The pictures were analyzed to determine the visual presence of European
American men, European American women, African American men, and African American
women in textbook images. The gender and race of individuals was categorized into three
categories: criminals, victims, and professionals. The results were compared to a similar
study conducted 20 years ago. It was found that European American men had less visual
dominance than reported earlier; however images still reinforced the notion that European
American men are more likely to be professionals, European American women more likely to
be victims, and African American men more likely to be criminals. African American
women, on the other hand, lacked a visual presence of any kind. These findings suggest that
our culture still reinforces stereotypes in regards to criminals and victims, and these
stereotypes might at times bias law enforcement agents when it comes to recognizing an
African American individual as a victim.
Some have claimed that the defendant race and physical attractiveness play an
important role in juror-decision making. For instance, Golovkin10 examined the interactive
effects of victim physical attractiveness and defendant race on juror decision-making in a trial
of alleged acquaintance sexual assault. Mock jurors read a trial transcript in which both the
victim physical attractiveness and the defendant race were manipulated via photographs.
Results shown that while women were not influenced by victim attractiveness, men were
more certain of the defendant guilt when the victim was unattractive. More so, when the
9
Francis, R. D. (2014). Victimology. In Birthplace, Migration and Crime (pp. 168-188). Palgrave Macmillan
UK, p. 171
10
Golovkin, B. M. (2015). Victimity as the Main Category of Victimology. JE Eur. L., 6, p. 76
GENDER, RACE, AND VICTIM COOPERATION
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defendant was white, attractive victims were usually rated as more responsible for the alleged
assault than unattractive victim, while this effect was reversed for trials with a black
defendant and non-existent for trials with an Aboriginal Canadian defendant.
Another important aspect of the relationship between gender, race, and victim
cooperation is the consideration that the psychological consequences of being the victim of a
crime might affect many African American women to a higher degree, and this in turn might
affect their willingness and capability to cooperate with the law enforcement agents.
Literature shows that females tend to have higher levels of fear than males, and that women
tend to resort on constraining behavioral actions that sometimes limit their participation in
public life. The strategies that women use to avoid crime might also reflect the community
context and might be influenced by race and gender. By examining the role of community,
race, and gender on avoidance strategies and victimization, Cobine, Morash, Kashy & Smith11
shown that both African American and European American have similar avoidance strategies,
but that African American women tend to feel less safe than European American women and
are more likely to employ avoidance strategies more often. Despite the fact that they are more
likely to employ avoidant behaviors, African American women are also more likely to be
victims of crime.
Finally, it is important to mention that one of the most important problems of official
figures is what is known as “dark figures of crime”, as not all crimes are reported or known to
the police and many of those suspected or known of it are not prosecuted and convicted. The
dark figures of crime might be significantly reduced if victims would be more likely to
11
Cobbina, J. E., Morash, M., Kashy, D. A., & Smith, S. W. (2014). Race, Neighborhood Context, and
Strategies to Avoid Victimization Among Female Probationers and Parolees. Race and Justice,
2153368714540536, p. 22
GENDER, RACE, AND VICTIM COOPERATION
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cooperate with law enforcement agents. Because some victims live in communities where
fear and distrust are more common, they might be less willing to trust law enforcement
agents. For this reasons, it has been argued that it is important that law enforcement agencies
ensure to include a visible amount of diversity within their structure, as distrustful victims are
more likely to feel comfortable with agents that are from the same background as they are,
whether that means of the same race or of the same gender, the latest preference being
especially true for women victim.12
Methodology
The present study will use a correlational approach, as the purpose of the paper is to
investigate the relationship between race, gender and victim cooperation with law
enforcement agents, not to make cause and effects claims which would require an
experimental approach. The final goal of the paper is to make policy recommendation that
would consider the findings of this research.
The sample of the study will consist of males and females of White, Black, and
Hispanic origin that were previously victims of crime. In order to avoid the potential
influence of the type of crime in the relationships that are meant to be analyzed, all subjects
selected would be victims of non-violent robbery.
The data will be collected through a questionnaire. The subjects will receive a penciland-paper questionnaire designed specifically for this research. The questionnaire will
request for the following information: age, gender, ethnic/racial background, and the level of
trust in police officers (measured with a Likert scale that will have the minimum value of 1
12
Golovkin, B. M. (2015). Victimity as the Main Category of Victimology. JE Eur. L., 6, p. 94
GENDER, RACE, AND VICTIM COOPERATION
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and the maximum value of 5, with 1 representing minimum trust and 5 representing
maximum trust), and the level of trust in the American judicial system ( measured with a
Likert scale that will have the minimum value of 1 and the maximum value of 5, with 1
representing minimum trust and 5 representing maximum trust). The questionnaire will have
an additional question who will ask the participants whether the race and the gender of a law
enforcement agent has had any role in the level of trust they had toward him or her, and will
be answered with “Yes” or “No”.
The data collected should show the following information:
– Whether gender influences the level of trust showed toward law enforcement agents.
– Whether ethnicity/race influences the level of trust showed toward law enforcement agents.
– Whether participants of a given gender or race show more or less trust toward law
enforcement agents compared to the rest of the groups.
-Whether the race and the gender of a law enforcement agent has any role in the level of trust
expressed by the victims.
The independent variables are the following: gender (levels: 1. male, 2. women), race
(levels: 1. White, 2. Black, 3. Hispanic). The dependent variables are the following: level of
trust in law enforcement officers, level of trust in the American judicial system, and the role
that gender and race of the law enforcement agents has on the trust showed by the
participants (levels: 1. race and gender affects trust, 2. race and gender o does not affect
trust).
The latest version of IBM SPSS (2015) will be used to analyze the data. T-Student for
two independent samples will be used to compare the means of each level of the independent
GENDER, RACE, AND VICTIM COOPERATION
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variables for each dependent variable and one-way ANOVA will be used to determine
whether the interaction between the categorical variables (gender and race) has any effect on
the dependent variables.
It is preferable to use t-Student for comparing two different groups because it
provides the same information as one-way ANOVA for comparing the means between 2
samples and it is the simplest to conduct. On the other hand, t-Student does not reveal the
interaction effect between two independent variables and a dependent one, something which
two-ways ANOVA. In other words, while the main advantage of t-Student is its simplicity,
its main disadvantage is its limited functionality.
Because two-ways ANOVA is a tool that allows researchers to analyze the interaction
effect between two or more independent variable on one dependent variable, I will use it for
analyzing the potential effect that the interaction between gender and race separately has on
the each dependent variable.
One disadvantage of two-ways ANOVA is that while it shows whether a significant
interaction exist between at least one level of one independent variable and at least one level
of another independent variable, it does not tell you where the interaction exists. However,
once an ANOVA test has confirmed that a significant interaction exists, there are many posthoc tests that can be conducted to reveal where the interaction occurs.
Finally, another way by which I could analyze the data is through a MANOVA test,
which does not only shows the interaction effect between two or more independent variables
on a dependent variable, but also the relationship between two or more dependent variables.
While the advantage of MANOVA is that it allows researchers to compare multiple
multivariate sample means which is essential when conducting a study involving many
GENDER, RACE, AND VICTIM COOPERATION
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dependent variables, it has a disadvantage of providing results that are more difficult to
interpret because of the complexity of the analysis. Because analyzing the relationship
between two dependent variables of this study are beyond the scope of the study and using a
complex analysis with no gains for the study would be irrelevant, there is no need to conduct
a MANOVA analysis.
GENDER, RACE, AND VICTIM COOPERATION
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References
Aviv, G., & Weisburd, D. (2016). Reducing the gap in perceptions of legitimacy of victims
and non-victims: The importance of police performance. International Review of
Victimology, 1, 22.
Carson, K. (2015). Victimology from a police perspective. International Journal of Ethics,
Trauma & Victimology, 1(1).
Cobbina, J. E., Morash, M., Kashy, D. A., & Smith, S. W. (2014). Race, Neighborhood
Context, and Strategies to Avoid Victimization Among Female Probationers and
Parolees. Race and Justice, 2153368714540536.
Francis, R. D. (2014). Victimology. In Birthplace, Migration and Crime (pp. 168-188).
Palgrave Macmillan UK.
Golovkin, B. M. (2015). Victimity as the Main Category of Victimology. JE Eur. L., 6.
Lauritsen, J., Rezey, M. L., & Heimer, K. (2013). Violence and economic conditions in the
United States, 1973-2011. Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice,
1043986213509024.
Maeder, E. M., Yamamoto, S., & Saliba, P. (2015). The influence of defendant race and
victim physical attractiveness on juror decision-making in a sexual assault trial.
Psychology, Crime & Law, 21(1), 62-79.
Tillyer, M. S., & Tillyer, R. (2016). Race, Ethnicity, and Adolescent Violent Victimization.
Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 1-15.
von Delden, J. (2016). Sex, Gender, Sexuality, and Victimology. Sex, Sexuality, Law, and
(In) justice, 436.
GENDER, RACE, AND VICTIM COOPERATION
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