Public Health and Fear of Crime: A Prospective Cohort Study
Posted: 26 Oct 2009 Last revised: 8 Mar 2013
Date Written: November 1, 2009
Public insecurities about crime are widely assumed to erode individual well-being and community cohesion. Yet, robust evidence on the link between worry about crime and health is surprisingly scarce. This paper draws on data from a prospective cohort study (the Whitehall II study) to show a strong statistical effect of mental health and physical functioning on worry about crime. Combining with existing evidence, we suggest a feedback model in which worry about crime harms health, which, in turn, serves to heighten worry about crime. We conclude with the idea that, while fear of crime may express a whole set of social and political anxieties, there is a core to worry about crime that is implicated in real cycles of decreased health and perceived vulnerability to victimization. The challenge for future study is to integrate core aspects of the everyday experience of fear of crime with the more layered and expressive features of this complex social phenomenon.
Keywords: fear of crime, public health, vulnerability, longitudinal research
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