Monday, January 21, 2013

Essay on Predatory Crimes

A predatory crime is defined as “an act that causes a victim to suffer loss of property or physical harm.” (1).  This is in contrast to the other three broad categories of crime: illegal service crimes, public disorder crimes and crimes of negligence. Predatory crimes are, perhaps, the most famous crimes of the category – they make all of the loudest headlines. Murder, manslaughter, rape, kidnapping, first-degree burglary and white-collar crime all fall into this category. These are the crimes people try to ward against most. However, all too often, their attempts are unsuccessful because people have a somewhat warped idea of what is truly dangerous, so they defend themselves against things and prevent circumstances that aren’t nearly as dangerous as what they face every day. One of the most famous scares, for instance, is the serial killer scare. 

People are afraid of someone who will slaughter them for no reason whatsoever, just because the killer’s warped psychology requires it of him – I believe that the illogicality takes a major part in this idea being as frightening as it is to the masses – however, they forget that 80% minimum of predatory crimes are committed by someone the person knows. So parents might forbid their daughter to walk alone at night in a public place, however, allow her to stay out with a date she’s met only a few weeks back – the second  being, in theory, more dangerous. In this paper, I’ll start with general recommendations about the prevention of predatory crime on a personal level, and then list four particular contexts, giving specific tips on how to handle them.

A number of things must be remembered when facing predatory crime in general. The first thing is to know the facts. Many of the stereotypes associated with predatory crimes are simply false, such as the one listed above. A list of factors to be taken account when dealing with predatory crimes would have made a paper on its own, so I shall only say that they must be known. Second is to minimize the risk. This can be done in a number of ways – avoiding places which are likely to be dangerous, being aware of how well you know your acquaintances, being prepared for assault at all times. Third is to keep a cool head in any circumstances – and that includes knowing when to act. It is often recommended that submitting in any circumstances is best. 

This is simply not true – in some cases, such as when resistance of the victim is unexpected by the offender – this raises one’s chance of being seriously harmed greatly. Risk, naturally, must be taken into account when calculating this – statistics show that those resisting actively take more damage in general, but are less likely to be grievously harmed. This rate differs for different kinds of crime, however, and the specific nature of the crime must be taken into account here – which I shall now move on to, discussing rape, kidnapping, assault and first-degree burglary.

Rape is one of the greatest criminal scares of all time. Indeed, what can be more frightening than the violation not just of a person’s body, but also of his or her mind? Rape is a crime of violence, an outlet for anger – not for sexual release. And it is usually committed by someone the victim knows – in 84% of the cases, in fact. Rape is one of those cases where resistance is not futile – the more a person actively resists, the less likely she is to get raped. However, rape can involve not only violence, but psychological pressure, as well (a threat, for instance). This also constitutes as rape, and makes men possible victims. Acting in unexpected ways can also aid the victim. A well-known urban legend says that one woman scared away a would-be rapist by screaming “Hooray!” at him. Every joke has a bit of a joke in it, but this is a good example. Rapists look for victims – they do not usually look for a challenge.

Kidnapping is a predatory crime that is a completely different story. This is a crime which is often joked about in the form of a hoax – or warned about in this manner. As the name shows, it’s most famous for the abduction of children - however, even adults can be kidnapped. To avoid kidnapping, one should at least not make common knowledge one’s usual routes and places where one goes (4). Varying one’s routine helps, and makes it much more difficult for a kidnapper. Active resistance can help in the very beginning, while you are being taken, as per assault – however, if already kidnapped, the best way to go is to play it submissive – unless in danger of being killed – until a chance to escape presents itself.

Dealing with assault is, again, different. Once again, key is avoidance of possible situations. A white person strolling around in Harlem at three in the morning is all too likely to be assaulted, for instance. Risk minimized, resistance severely depends on the victim’s and the attacker’s physical condition. Still, the best way to go about it is to, if possible, get away from the fight. Simply run. Throw the assaulters off your track, and then go for aid. The blunt truth is, it is not the assaulters who will have to heal the wounds and broken bones you might gain from fighting head on. Getting away and calling for aid is essential to a safe survival.

When faced with first-degree burglary – which, too, falls under the predatory crime category – is, once more, different. If one places oneself in the place of the burglar, one must understand that he is likely very much frightened. The law is on your side, and he has been caught in the act red-handed. He is likely panicked – and, if it’s first-degree, the “fight” part of the instinct has overwhelmed the “fright” part. However, this instinct can be turned around. A man in this condition can be easily frightened away or threatened, such as saying that someone else in the house has called the police or something of the sort. As usual, it is best to try not to get into a physical confrontation. Nevertheless, if a fight does ensue, you have one distinct advantage: you know the territory and he does not. If the victim utilizes in the correct manner, it is more than likely that the burglar will turn tail and run.

Thus we can see that the cases of predatory crime are very different. General prevention of such crimes on a personal level is very similar, boiling down to minimizing the risk by avoiding risky places and situations, utilizing common sense and keeping calm. However, when already in a situation that might be threatening to one’s health, the ways of proper conduct are very different, each meriting its own paper. It is difficult to work out one strategy for all predatory crimes. The one thing to be said for most of them is to try not to get oneself harmed – in many cases, it is better a living dog than a dead lion. It is braver in all respect of one to prevent a crime or come out of it alive than perpetuate a conflict.
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