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A qualitative exploration of gender differences in young adults’ fear of crime

Cole, Samantha (2018) A qualitative exploration of gender differences in young adults’ fear of crime. University of Brighton. (Unpublished)


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Fear of crime (FOC) research has repeatedly found a ‘paradox of fear’, in which females are found to be more fearful of crime than males, despite lower victimisation rates. Previous research has relied on quantitative measures to explain the causes of this ‘paradox’, but there is a lack of existing literature regarding experiences of FOC and its effects, especially in young adults. This study utilised semi-structured interviews with 9 females and 6 males. Thematic analysis compared and contrasted the experiences of crime for both genders and revealed four main themes: Exposure to crime, Cautiousness, Vulnerability and Normalisation of fear. The findings indicate a heightened FOC among young females, which was experienced as frequent and normalised, whilst males experienced FOC as rare and fleeting. Due to these differences, females experienced a need to act cautiously and utilise avoidance tactics, whilst males displayed a care-free attitude. Females in this study believed their heightened FOC was inevitable, and many felt negatively toward this. These findings indicate that public discourse regarding crime serves to normalise young women’s heightened FOC and reduces their quality of life. Public discourse should therefore aim to encourage feelings of safety in young women, in order to reduce their FOC.

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