A REAPPRAISAL OF THE OVERLAP OF VIOLENT OFFENDERS AND VICTIMS*

Authors


  • *

    The authors are grateful to Denise Gottfredson, Richard Felson, and the anonymous referees for numerous insightful comments. A version of this article was presented at the 2007 annual meeting of the American Society of Criminology in Atlanta, GA. The data used in this publication were made available by the American Family Data Archive (AFDA), Sociometrics Corporation, 170 State Street, Suite 260, Los Altos, CA 94022–2812. The study entitled The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health), waves 1 and 2, 1994–1996 was conducted by J. Richard Udry of the Carolina Population Center, CB#8120, University Square, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27516–3997. Funding for the data collection was provided by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) under Grant P01-HD31921. Funding support for preparing the revised documentation for public distribution was provided by a grant (2 R44-HD21776) from the NICHD to Sociometrics Corporation. The original investigators, the funding agency, and Sociometrics Corporation are not responsible for the analyses and interpretations presented here. Direct correspondence to Christopher J. Schreck, Department of Criminal Justice, Rochester Institute of Technology, 1 Lomb Memorial Drive, Rochester, NY 14623 (e-mail: cjsgcj@rit.edu).

Abstract

Because research shows a close association between offending and victimization, recent work has argued that theories that account for crime should explain victimization as well. The current study uses a new approach to examine the extent of the overlap between offenders who commit violent crime and victims of violence to determine whether it is worthwhile to pursue separate theories to account for these phenomena. Specifically, we take the statistical approach that Osgood and Schreck (2007) developed for analyzing specialization in violent versus property offending and apply it to analyzing tendencies to gravitate toward violent offending versus victimization. In doing so, we treat the differentiation into victim and offender roles as an individual-level latent variable while controlling for confounding between the likelihood that individuals will take either role in violent acts and their overall numbers of encounters with violence (as either offender or victim). Our purpose is to examine 1) whether significant differentiation can be observed between the tendency to be an offender versus the tendency to be a victim, 2) whether any such differential tendency is stable over time, and 3) if it is possible to predict whether individuals will tend toward violent offending versus victimization. Using two waves of data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health to explore these objectives, we find significant and stable levels of differentiation between offenders and victims. Moreover, this differentiation is predictable with explanatory variables.

Ancillary