Women's Fear of Crime: The Role of Fear for the Well-Being of Significant Others

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A number of explanations have been suggested in the literature for the finding that women consistently report higher levels of fear of crime than males. The “shadow” hypothesis argues that fear of crime among females reflects fear of sexual assault. The “intimate” hypothesis argues that women's fear of crime is the result of exposure to intimate violence. Females' fear of crime is expected to be explained by their fear of partners' violence. The main argument of this article is that women's fear of crime might be the result of traditional family gender roles. When asked, women might express fear not only for their own well-being but for that of their children. A survey of a representative sample of women in the third largest city of Israel was used to test this assumption. Women's fear of crime was found to be affected by fear of sexual assault and fear of violent partners. In addition, consistent with the argument of this study, women's fear of violent and sexual victimization of their children had a significant effect on their perception of fear. Future directions for research are suggested.

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