. "Public Perceptions and Reactions to Violent Offending and Victimization." Understanding and Preventing Violence, Volume 4: Consequences and Control. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 1994.
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Understanding and Preventing Violence: Volume 4 - Consequences and Control
with. There is, however, another possible explanation. Warr (1990) has shown that a key cue to danger is novelty; novel or unfamiliar environments evoke fear of criminal victimization. For most individuals, of course, home and the surrounding neighborhood are the environments that they are most familiar with (e.g., Holahan, 1982) and, hence, should fear least.
The fact that home is typically perceived to be comparatively safe, however, does not mean that it is perceived to be risk free. Not all individuals feel safe at home (see Skogan and Maxfield, 1981), and residential burglary, as we have seen, is among the most feared crimes. Although areas away from home may be especially feared, the large number of hours that people commonly spend in their home and neighborhood means that any risks in those environments are amplified by exposure to risk. Also, as a "storehouse" of valued possessions (and persons), the home is a uniquely vulnerable location.
If crime is commonly perceived in geographic terms, it is also perceived in social terms. That is, there appear to be widely accepted images of dangerous persons, with the result that some persons in the population are feared more than others. Although the personal attributes that signify danger might appear to be subtle and numerous, that is not necessarily the case. Using data from a factorial survey, Warr (1990) found that two immediately apparent features of persons combine to form a potent cue for eliciting fear. The most frightening persons, quite simply, are young males. Young males are particularly frightening to females, but even young males are often frightened of other young males. Moreover, few cues or combinations of cues are more powerful in eliciting fear than a group of young males. This finding is corroborated by evidence that adults commonly avoid groups of "teenagers" (e.g., DuBow et al., 1979), but Warr's work indicates that it is young males (even when alone), rather than females, who provoke fear.
The question of dangerous persons, of course, raises one of the most sensitive questions of our day. Granted that young males are frightening, what about young black males? Are blacks more frightening than whites? Using data from residents of three cities, Graber (1980:55) reports that respondents "viewed crime largely as the work of young males, black or belonging to other minority races." In a detailed investigation of Chicago neighborhoods, Taub