Date of Award:

2002

Document Type:

Dissertation

Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department:

Family, Consumer, and Human Development

Department name when degree awarded

Family and Human Development

Advisor/Chair:

Brent C. Miller

Abstract

Fear of crime and the public's satisfaction with police has been a focus of criminologists for a number of years. Most studies, however, have focused on the general population as a whole. What is not known is how fearful American youth are of the crime in their neighborhoods and how they perceive those in law enforcement. The purpose of this study was to explore this subgroup of the population and to begin the investigation of youths' fear of crime and their perceptions of law enforcement.

Using a national sample of 1,897 youth ages 16-25 collected from 12 cities throughout the United States, data were analyzed to explore the strength of demographic and community variables as they related to youths' fear of crime and perceptions of law enforcement.

Results for fear of crime indicate that in general, American youth are not very fearful of crime in their neighborhoods. Older youth (18-25) tended to be more fearful than younger youth (16-17), females were more fearful than males, married youth were more fearful than non-married youth, youth living in the Northeast census region were the most fearful of the four census regions, and all non-White youth were more fearful of crime when compared to Whites. Youths' overall satisfaction with police indicated that in general, American youth were satisfied with police in their neighborhoods, with White youth and those youth with some college education being most satisfied with police.

When addressing the variance explained by demographic and community variables, youths' perceptions regarding their quality of life accounted for the most variance in both fear of crime and satisfaction with police. The strength of this predictor variable was so strong in fact, that other demographic and community variables were negligible by comparison.

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