relation have failed to control for the confounding effects of demographic variables in comparing victims to nonvictims. As we have seen, victimization rates and fear show strong—but opposite—correlations with age and sex. Consequently, crude comparisons between victims and nonvictims may fail to reveal the effects of victimization experiences.
Skogan and Maxfield (1981) found only small initial differences in fear in comparing victims of crime with nonvictims, but when they controlled for the confounding effects of demographic variables, the differences increased substantially. In addition, the largest differences in fear between victims and nonvictims occurred in cases where the victim had suffered a violent offense that required medical attention. This evidence, along with arguments we consider later, suggests that investigators may have failed to detect what could be substantial effects of prior victimization.
Much of the increased attention devoted to fear of crime in recent years stems from a deep concern among social scientists, public officials, and the media with the social consequences of fear. As Skogan and Maxfield (1981:186) have noted, "It is widely believed that fear of crime has enormous consequences for the way we live." Claims that the United States has become a "fortress" society or a society "paralyzed by fear" are common, if rather alarmist, expressions of such concern. Yet if the American public has not quite reached the point of panic, there is abundant evidence that fear does indeed affect the lives of Americans to a substantial degree.
Reactions to fear take many forms, but they can be classified under some general rubrics. Avoidance behaviors are those actions "taken to decrease exposure to crime by removing oneself from or increasing the distance from situations in which the risk of criminal victimization is believed to be high" (DuBow et al., 1979:31). Thus, a fearful person may avoid certain locations or certain kinds of people that are perceived to be dangerous, or may avoid certain activities (e.g., shopping) during certain times. Reducing exposure to risk through avoidance behaviors, however, is not always possible. An individual may have no choice but to pass through a dangerous area on the way to work and may not have the option of moving his or her home to a safer neighborhood. Where avoidance is not an option, individuals may engage