TABLE 2 Diffusion Ratios for Some Offenses (n = 2, 464)

Offense

Percentage of Respondents Victimized

Percentage of Respondents Who Know Victims in Neighborhood

Diffusion Ratio

Having your car or some other property vandalized

16.1

32.3

2.0

Having the home burglarized

4.7

30.3

6.4

Being robbed of money or valuables on the street

2.2

14.0

6.4

Being physically injured by a burglar in the home

0.5

6.0

12.0

Being physically injured by a robber on the street

0.6

8.0

13.3

Being raped

0.1

4.9

49.0

 

SOURCE: Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (1982).

offense than to have experienced victimization themselves. As indicated in column 3, however, the ratio of "vicarious" victimizations to direct victimizations (i.e., the diffusion ratio) is far from constant across offenses. For example, respondents were two times more likely to know a victim than to have been a victim of vandalism, but compared to their own chances of being victimized, they were about 13 times more likely to know someone injured in a robbery and 49 times more likely to know a victim of rape.

These data, then, suggest that interpersonal diffusion of crime news is not constant from one crime to the next, but rather increases with the seriousness of the crime. News of violent crime, especially, travels farther through social space than other crimes. Similar results are reported by Skogan and Maxfield (1981), whose analysis was not limited to knowledge of neighbors. Fully 66 percent of respondents in their city surveys reported knowing a victim of burglary, personal theft, stranger assault, or rape. When compared to property crimes, however, the proportions of respondents who knew victims of rape or assault were much greater than the relative frequencies of those crimes would suggest. The salience of violent crime was further demonstrated when Skogan and Maxfield asked respondents whether there was any particular crime that they "had read, seen, or heard about" in the last couple of weeks. Nearly all (95%) of the offenses mentioned by respondents were violent crimes, and nearly half were murders or attempted



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