Adolescent Fear of Crime, Perceptions of Risk, and Defensive Behaviors. An Alternative Explanation of Violent Delinquency

Author: May, David
This volume serves as an exploratory effort to understand the causes of adolescent fear and its subsequent association with defensive and aggressive behaviors. Responses from a sample of 318 incarcerated male adolescents in a Midwestern state are used to test the ‘fear of criminal victimization’ hypothesis in an attempt to explain subsequent gang membership, weapons possession, and juvenile violent activity. The results suggest a social milieu characterized by neighborhood incivility and victimization experiences which leads male youth to engage in defensive behaviors as a response to fear. This research offers an innovative explanation of violent delinquency that might be used to guide further research in this area.


“This is an important and timely topic and should be of much interest to researchers and policy makers alike. Moreover, the current dearth of in-depth research on the topic only adds to the appeal of May’s contribution, which outlines the kind of research we need and takes a number of important steps in the right direction. The individual chapters of the manuscript are well considered and provide in-depth analyses of each component of the ‘fear of criminal victimization’ hypothesis, starting with the nature of fear itself, the consequences of fear, implications for defensive behaviors and, ultimately, youth violence. . . . coverage of prior research and related issues will be valuable – in itself – to prospective researchers interested in the fear of crime and its consequences.” – Timothy Brezina

Table of Contents

Table of contents (main headings):
1. Fear: The Toxic Emotion (definition, forms, development, consequences)
2. Crime (direct experience with crime; convergence and divergence of data; patterns; indirect experience)
3. Fear as a Response to Crime (conceptualization; correlates – gender, race, socioeconomic status, victimization, age; consequences; gang membership as a response to fear)
4. Purpose
5. Methods
6. Results
7. Discussion, Conclusions, and Implications
Appendix; References; Index