Early Expressions of Support for Inquiries into the Victim(s) Role

Early Expressions of Support for Inquiries into the Victim(s) Role

A real mutuality frequently can be observed in the connection between the perpetrator and the victim, the killer and the killed, the duper and the duped. The vic- tim in many instances leads the evildoer into tempta- tion. The predator is, by varying means, prevailed upon to advance against the prey. (Von Hentig, 1941, p. 303)

In a sense, the victim shapes and molds the criminal. Although the final outcome may appear to be one-sided, the victim and criminal profoundly work upon each other, right up until the last moment in the drama. Ultimately, the victim can assume the role of determi- nant in the event. (Von Hentig, 1948, p. 384)

Criminologists should give as much attention to “victi- mogenesis” as to “criminogenesis.” Every person should know exactly to what dangers he is exposed because of his occupation, social class, and psychological consti- tution. (Ellenberger, 1955, p. 258)

The distinction between criminal and victim, which used to be considered as clear-cut as black and white, can become vague and blurred in individual cases. The lon- ger and the more deeply the actions of the persons involved are scrutinized, the more difficult it occasion- ally will be to decide who is to blame for the tragic outcome. (Mannheim, 1965, p. 672)

In some cases, the victim initiates the interaction, and sends out signals that the receiver (doer) decodes, triggering or generating criminal behavior in the doer. (Reckless, 1967, p. 142)

Probation and parole officers must understand victim– offender relationships. The personality of the victim, as a cause of the offense, is oftentimes more pertinent than that of the offender. (Schultz, 1968, p. 135)

Responsibility for one’s conduct is a changing concept, and its interpretation is a true mirror of the social, cultural, and political conditions of a given era … Notions of criminal responsibility most often indicate the nature of societal interrelationships and the ideol- ogy of the ruling group in the power structure. Many crimes don’t just happen to be committed—the victim’s negligence, precipitative actions, or provocations can contribute to the genesis of crime.… The victim’s functional responsibility is to do nothing that will pro- voke others to injure him, and to actively seek to prevent criminals from harming him. (Schafer, 1968, pp. 4, 144, 152)

Scholars have begun to see the victim not just as a passive object, as the innocent point of impact of crime on society, but as sometimes playing an active role and possibly contributing to some degree to his own vic- timization. During the last 30 years, there has been considerable debate, speculation, and research into the victim’s role, the criminal–victim relationship, the con- cept of responsibility, and behaviors that could be con- sidered provocative. Thus, the study of crime has taken on a more realistic and more complete outlook. (Viano, 1976, p. 1)

There is much to be learned about victimization patterns and the factors that influence them. Associated with the question of relative risk is the more specific question (of considerable importance) of victim participation, since crime is an interactional process. (Parsonage, 1979, p. 10)

Victimology also postulates that the roles of victim and victimizer are neither fixed nor assigned, but are

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jury and securing an acquittal or in convincing a judge to hand down a lesser sentence. For example, in cases where children slay their parents, the dead fathers and mothers may be pictured as callous abu- sers and perverse molesters, while their offspring are portrayed as defenseless objects of adult cruelty (see Estrich, 1993b; Hoffman, 1994).

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