Stages of Crisis in Criminology and Effects on Victims

List and discuss the three stages of crisis. In your opinion, which stage is the most critical for the victim? Justify your answer.

Crisis describes a time of extreme and intense difficulty in which an individual or group of people are placed from which they cannot resolve their way out using their regular solutions. In fact, at this time, victims find themselves in situations well beyond their usual scope and their life disrupted acutely. The repercussions of this situations are vast in nature and range from physiological, sociological as well as emotional. There are three stages through which these victims go over the crisis situation to the point of a certain degree of recovery. These include the impact stage, the recoil stage and then finally the recovery stage, (Reidel, 1990). Of these one would seem to be of profound interest to the welfare of the victim, although all are critical.

The impact stage is the time of acute crisis and its immediate aftermath. At this time, the victim is placed in jeopardy, their very being twisted and life seems shattered because the very tenets of their existence would have been challenged, (Young 1991). The stage can be easily seen by outsiders and onlookers through the way the victim/s life becomes disorganized and they may even fail to cope with the routine tasks they were used to in their normal pre-crisis life. Sleeping and eating become difficult and victim becomes numb from the shock. In other words, they begin to exist as if in a void or as disorientated. This stage is all to do with feeling and experiencing of the brunt of the moment and the victim is almost hopeless and helpless at the same time, (Kennedy, 2004). This stage cannot be said to be critical because the victim is hardly living.

The second stage is that of recoil and is also known as the effort to survive, (Young, 1991). During this stage, the victim is simply trying to move out of the shell-like existence into which the crisis would have placed them. They make attempts at re-integrating themselves and all manner of sensations, feelings and personal opinions emerge. Depending on personality, drive and environment, the victim begins to either come to terms or recoil from their acute feelings in baby steps. This stage may take long as it may involve back-and-forth survival efforts in which one minute victim may want to confront, at other times they shy away or feeling anger and guilt interchangeably. This is the most critical stage in amidst the crisis stages as this stage determines the full recovery of the victim. The duration and support of this stage is what sets the tone and pace for full recovery and when not experienced under optimal conditions, the victim may be further placed into turmoil, (Bard and Sangrey as cited in Reidel, 1990).

The last stage of the three is the Recovery or the reorganization stage. In other instances, it is known as the life-after-death stage. In relation to the needs of the victim, there is much need for involvement from people around and material intervention from various groups of people during this stage. The victim has managed to come through and faced the “demons” within and so begin the active act to revert to their normal existence. They invariably require much information, counselling, information and anything that may give them a reassurance on safety, (Kennedy, 2004). This stage takes over from the stage of deliberate recovery and so has less of an impact on the victim but rather substantiates everything that would have been built at the stage of recoil.

In conclusion, all the stages have a bearing on the victim and the victim requires that they be experienced in full measure if full recovery is to be attained. However, it is rather an apt assessment to point out that the victim is mostly involved at the recoil stage because it is more intrinsic in nature requiring their personality, emotional metamorphosis and even acceptance and the ability to move out of the shell into which crisis would have plunged them, (Young, 1991). The other stages are more extrinsic and depend largely on the environment or rather are as a result of the environment around the victim. In other words, the victim has less control over the situation.

  1. Should persons who commit disaster fraud be sentenced more severely than those who steal from a single victim? Why or why not?

Disaster fraud refers to the deliberate act by a person/persons desiring to benefit in an unscrupulous way from a disaster situation. The perpetrators take advantage of the initial chaos and general sympathy of the public to gain from the situation either financially or in kind, (Charles, 2018). It may seem most logical that a person that commits fraud on a large scale such as in the case of a disaster should be penalized more heavily but it is more just to penalize the one who steals from a single person because the levels of emotional and personal violation is higher for a singular person as opposed to collectively, (Coombs, 2006).

According to the 18 U.S Code, Section 1341;

A convicted individual faces a maximum period of 20 years imprisonment for fraud. However, when it is in connection with a natural disaster, the penalty increases to a maximum of 30 years imprisonment and a million dollars as fine to be paid in connection with a presidentially declared major disaster or emergency.”

This code outlines that any other fraudulent act does require a penalty but those that are perpetrated directly in line with a natural disaster or which have the involvement of a presidential declaration would be sentenced more heavily. In this case, it would seem that the state places more importance and weight to the word of the president and not an ounce of thought to those that are affected by the fraudulent act.

In the same instance, a state-declared situation calls for assistance from well-wishers and persons willing and able to help in the situation. It is those people that are taken advantage of for meaning well. However, they already had a budget for the parting of funds towards the situation and this has little bearing on their personal financial position. At the same time, victims facing a crisis collectively tend to recover more easily and quickly as opposed to isolated cases of disaster.

However, when a fraud is instigated against an individual, there are more repercussions for that individual to survive the situation. Personal loss in this way leads to emotional turmoil and a high degree of violation on the victim’s part and these are not made national concerns thus the individual has to carry the burden on their own with no well-wishing sympathizers, (Charles, 2018). In this regard, the depth of turmoil is higher for the individual in comparison to that of the state at large or for the one who willingly disbursed funding. Resolutely, if justice is to prevail, it has to make an attempt to compensate directly to the loss incurred. For that reason, the one who commits a fraud in a natural disaster should be charged but the one who commits one against an individual must be charged more.

In conclusion, the fraudsters who target an individual do more emotional and personal damage as opposed to those who commit one during a national concern such as a natural disaster. Both cases result in loss but the impact on a person’s emotional well-being is higher where the situation is isolated and has to be dealt with from an individual scale.

  1. Discuss the advantages and/ or disadvantages of studying victim precipitation. Should researchers continue to study this? Why or why not?

The study of victim precipitation was effected in a bid to establish all the factors surrounding the occurrence of a crime in order to reduce the precipitation of it. The victim precipitation theory is more or less a direct admission that the criminal is not totally to blame for a crime although he may have deep-sitting character flaws, (Harrison, 1965). However, these character flaws are facilitated in part, or at times in whole, by the victim and when victims are made aware of these facilitation factors, they can help decrease the likelihood of being victimized, (Kenney, 2002). There are more advantages to the studying of victim precipitation and some disadvantages.

Simultaneously, those taking part in the crime investigations require an understanding of these factors for a comprehensive analysis of the matter such as the extent to which the criminal was provoked or how vulnerable the victim was in the situation so that sentence is passed fairly, (Avaloncenter.org, 2018). For instance, a victim may be a vulnerable person and that in its own right makes it easier for the criminal to commit the crime because they would face little or no resistance. On the other hand, there may be the victim who literally pushes the criminal to commit the crime though certain wanton or drunken behavior in which both of them may be in the same state of stupor, (Quizlet, 2018).

The advantage of studying these dynamics in victimization cases is that it enables the judicial system to adequately litigate a matter. When a 2 year old baby is victimized by a sixty year old man, there is more consequences to be faced by the old man because the law literally fights in full for the rights of the vulnerable and unknowing two-year old. For this reason, there cannot be leniency and indeed there have been proposals for some cases of rapists to be castrated in such extreme cases as in pedophilic behavior, (What-when-how.com, 2018).

Additionally, studying the precipitation factors will enable law enforcement agents and other various stakeholders who may wish to work with communities to reduce crime. This can be done by education the likely typologies of measures they can take to reduce the occurrences of victimization. For example, advising young girls against group binge drinking in which they may end up drunk and amongst certain persons of no favorable characteristics. Another way this can be done may be through arming weaker individuals with life-skills such as karate lessons and so on to help them withstand certain attacks, (Harrison, 1965).

A disadvantage of the studying of victim precipitation can be seen in how it may make those in authority focus more on the victims and how guilty they can be in a situation rather than delving into facts that may help to sentence the criminal. This refers to how the victims’ flaws and traits that may lead to a crime become more dominant in comparison to the fact that someone has done them a wrong and should be duly punished for it whether or not they had a part to play in it all, (Kenney, 2002). For example, if a woman was walking home from work in a dark street and gets attacked and focus if placed on the darkness of the night and the fact that she was alone, then there is little attempt that may be made to make the streets lighter, or the criminal pay for the crime but rather how she should have prevented that crime from happening. But in the end, that would not be the last victim of such an incident as the darkened street may never get fixed and the criminal may always go back to roam around the area.

It is a worthy study in victim precipitation which should be continued. However, it should focus on mitigating crime and helping the victims while simultaneously rightly sentencing the criminals. If that can be managed, then victim precipitation would be very helpful in victimology cases.

  1. Explain how the victim precipitation typologies do or do not adequately explain victimization

Victim precipitation typologies manage a great deal to explain the role or contribution made by victims in the occurrence of a crime. However, the definition of victimization is that it is the causing of someone to feel they are in a bad situation by singularly treating them to unfair, cruel or just acts, (yourdictionary.com, 2018). From that definition, if all attempts are made to explain how guilty or not-guilty a victim is in a case of victimization, then the essence of victimization becomes obsolete. It stupefies the very system that seeks to protect the victim by describing how worthy of victimization that victim is thus reducing the crime to an arbitration case on who may be or may not be mostly at fault.

Mendelson’s typology places victims on a continuum of how guilty they can be to how not-guilty they can be in a case where they have been wronged. If the system is to give attention to the crime of the victim, then what is the point of the report to bring the criminal to book? This may very well discourage victims from reporting crimes against themselves where they feel they may have been at fault, (Harrison, 1965).

Secondly, Wolfgang brings up the concept of sub-intentional homicide which expounds on how a victim facilitates his/her own disaster by poor judgment. This is when their lifestyle or a part of their life is labelled risky. The question then can be; by whose standards can being drunk and wantonly experimental at a party be labeled “risky?” It also brings to the fore the question of whether or not the state may be hiding behind individual behavior on social concerns over which they ought to be more involved.

For example, drug abuse and dark street lights are some of the ingredients of unsafe activities that may lead to victimization and yet these are some of the factors that governments and stakeholders must try and eradicate before placing judgment on victims when crime arises out of them. The fact that one has fallen prey to those taking advantage of a large scale situation makes it a victimization case which should not be explained away by how the victim should have tried to evade it or prevent it. Overall, they rarely choose to be in that situation except in the extreme cases of self-victimization, (Coombs, 2006).

All the other theories such as Stephen Schafer’s and that by Hentig all point to how a victim was responsible somehow for their victimization. All these forget the notion that a crime has been committed and the criminal must be convicted. Conclusively, each crime against another person which has the repercussions of disturbing that individual’s equilibrium is a crime that needs no justification and must be judged accordingly. Typologies therefore, dissolve the role of victim as victim and makes them abets to the very crime that was committed against them. All this eradicates the full definition of victimization as singularly placing an individual into cruel and unjust treatment.

References

Avaloncenter.org. (2018). [online]

Charles, B. (2018). Disaster Fraud: Criminals Capitalizing on Catastrophes. [online] Security Intelligence.

Coombs, W. (2006). The Protective Powers of Crisis Response Strategies. Journal of Promotion Management, 12(3-4), pp.241-260.

Harrison, M. (1965). Lindemann’s Crisis Theory and Dabrowski’s Positive Disintegration Theory-A Comparative Analysis. Perspectives in Psychiatric Care, 3(7), pp.8-13.

Kenney, J. (2002). Metaphors of Loss: Murder, Bereavement, Gender, and Presentation of the ‘Victimized’ Self. International Review of Victimology, 9(3), pp.219-251.

Quizlet. (2018). Victimology Chapter One Flashcards | Quizlet.

What-when-how.com. (2018). Victim Precipitation Theories.

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