Does a person bear some of the responsibility for his or her victimization if the person maintains a lifestyle that contributes to the chances of becoming a crime victim? In other words, should we “blame the victim?”

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

This is a pretty complicated question that requires nuance and critical thinking to address. I would address this question by starting to think about:

1. how people are often attacked because of hate-based attacks such as racism, homophobia, transphobia, misogyny, classism, ableism, anti-homeless sentiment, anti-immigrant sentiment, etc, and should never be blamed for the oppressive realities of the state and dominant society,

2. how states set up systems of courts and police that create an illusion of safety for some and active oppression for others—often for the same people who endure hate-based attacks—and how relying on cops and courts does not create safety, and

3. how states tend to discourage people from defending themselves, and instead, encourage calling the police who do not, according to the Supreme Court, have any duty to intervene in a violent situation, and who are responsible in multiple instances for actively harming the person who called for help.

Groups such as the Black Panther Party and Queer Bash Back groups have actively turned to teaching themselves and each other self and group defense in order to protect themselves from vigilante and state-violence. These groups, then, do not seek to rely on the very systems that contribute to their oppression and keep each other safe. These frameworks of safety recognize that not only do police tend to not keep people safe or actually intervene in violent situations, but that they are often the very people inflicting violence, and therefore, oppressed people and people who seek true freedom must rely on themselves and each other for safety. These frameworks do not "victim blame", however, but encourage a framework shift away from state-based narratives of safety.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The answer to this question subjective. There is not a definitively correct answer, so you are free to state your opinion and defend it.

Personally, I feel that the second rephrased question is much easier to answer than the initial prompt. No, I do not feel that we should blame the victim. With that said, I do think that some victims in certain circumstances could take proactive steps to limit his or her vulnerability to negative outcomes.

A person has control over various parts of his or her health triangle. If physical lung health is being hurt because of smoking cigarettes, then that person can choose to stop smoking. Similarly, if a person's physical lung health is being compromised because of living in an area with low air quality, then the person could move if they have the resources to do so. Unfortunately, most people who live in areas with low air quality do not have these resources, making moving impossible and putting their health at risk.

Your writing prompt isn't that much different. If a person lives in a high crime area, then their risk factors are increased. If they have the option, they could choose to leave that area in order to decrease the risk factor, but even then there is no way that a person can totally eliminate the possibility of being the victim of a crime—and, again, the vast majority of people who live in areas with high crime do not have the resources, financial or otherwise, to leave.

Therefore, the victim should never be blamed. The victim isn't the person performing the crime. That person deserves the blame.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team