levels personal experiences, ethnicity, age, income, influence whether

levels of fear of crime than their counterparts who did not
(Dowler, 2003). An individual’s personal experiences, ethnicity, age, income, influence
whether or not media has an impact on them. Individuals with prior experience
of any involvement in crimes prior to watching crime related television would
not become fearful of them afterwards, whereas an individual who has no prior
experience being involved in crime, would become more fearful after watching
particular news or television dramas (Liska & Baccaglini, 1990). Gerbner et
al (1980) found that “the relationship between the fear of crime and the amount
of television watched was greatest for females and white people”; Gerbner
(1980) also pointed towards ‘female, whites and elderly people as more likely
to have a fear of crime’; despite their lower likelihoods in finding themselves
victims of it” (Dowler, 2003).

Only a minor subsection of
the population have first-hand experience of violent crime, in reference to
this, the majority of people whom have not had any direct contact with violent
crime, believe the world is worse than it is; the result of this is major sections
of the population within societies becoming more afraid of getting victimized
than need be (McQuivey 1997). The fear victimization
paradox is founded on one’s ability/inability to master involvement in a
violent crime. Fear Victimization paradox exists independently of the
likelihood of involvement in crime, it can happen despite the likelihood an
individual could be very likely become involved in a violent crime; “a truck
driver in the middle of the night at a rest area, its fear of crime might not
be high because it thinks that it has control over such a situation” (Sandman
1993; Sparks and Ogles 1990). Vanderveen (2003) posits that “men usually think
they can handle it. Women feel more vulnerable”, in reality however, men are
more likely to become a victim of a crime (Bureau of Statistic and Research
1996). Past undertaken research has suggested that crime information portrayed
in the form of facts and figures, have no influence on said individual’s
perception of crime, furthermore, that media influence is just one of many
factors to be taken into account when analysing prevalence to fear of crime,
whether on an individual or societal basis (McQuivey, 1997). Older people have
a greater fear of becoming a victim of crime ‘because they believe they are
more vulnerable’ than younger members in society (Carcach et. al., 2001). Their
physical fitness and strength has declined leaving them in a weakened state,
and therefore possibly targeting them as easy victims as they are less likely
to be able to defend themselves (Carcach et. al., 2001). Gerbner et
al (1980) confirmed his previous research in that those individuals who watch
more television than average showed a ‘higher rate of fear towards their
environment’ than those who watched less. More recently Dowler (2003) found
that even when taking into account factors such as race, age, gender, income,
education and marital status, those individuals whom watch more crime shows
tend to exhibit a significantly higher rate of being fearful of crime (Dowler,
2003). Dowler went on to discover that hours of watching television news
programs did not have a significant relationship with higher levels of fear of
crime (Dowler, 2003).

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By the 1970s the crime or police drama
had replaced the western for the most prevalent prime-time television fare
(Doyle, 2006). The boundary between crime entertainment and crime information
has been blurred progressively more in the past years (Dowler, Fleming, &
Muzzatti, 2006). Roughly half of the newspapers and television items people
come into contact with are concerned with crime, justice or deviance (Doyle,
2006). The mass media has been said to have influence over the way people look
at crime; as a result of the images portrayed, the image offered to the public
is one of differing appearance to the one founded on facts and figures, represented
by the government (Doyle, 2006). (Surrette, 2006) goes onto point out that
crime in the media has become formatted in a way that it is camouflaged as to depict
an informative and realistic nature. The research appreciates that images which
people see on television are compared against the world which they see, this
being the foundation for people’s lines between crime on the media and real
life becoming distorted.

Flately (2010) also points out that there has
been a steady fall in crime since 1995, but people still tend to believe that
it is increasing. Public belief in rising crime levels, as aforementioned, can
be directly correlated to increasing levels of the media’s representation of
crime. Fear of crime is something which can be used as a tool by government in
that a certain level of fear of crime is desirable to inspire problem solving
action and inspire the fearful to take precautions; “exaggerated public perceptions of crime risks
can also lead to serious distortions in government spending priorities and
policy making” (Bureau of Statistic and Research 1996). Functional fear is a tool used by the masses for
the purposes of self-preservation, although this is often taken out of personal
context and, one would