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Tale of Two Ivory Towers: A Comparative Analysis of Victimization Rates and Risks Between University Students in the United States and England

NCJ Number
British Journal of Criminology Volume: 43 Issue: 3 Dated: Summer 2003 Pages: 526-545
Date Published
20 pages

Based on victimization surveys of two random samples of students who lived on campus at comparable universities in the United States and England, this study examined the extent and nature of on-campus student victimization and students' on-campus risk of experiencing violence, theft, and burglary during an academic year.


Although the British and American studies were not designed and conducted in consultation with one another, the studies selected for comparison measured similar types of victimization and lifestyle-routine activity concepts among university students who lived on the main campus. The American data were obtained from studies of five universities that were similar to the university in England on two criteria significantly related to campus crime rates: the total student enrollment figures and locations of the campus. The average university in the American sample had a total enrollment of 6,300 students. Four universities were located in small towns, and one was located in a suburban setting near a mid-sized city. The American studies used survey questions modeled after those used in the National Crime Victim Survey main questionnaire and incident report. The British study involved a co-ed liberal arts institution that offers several undergraduate degrees and a small number of doctorate degrees. The victimization survey was modeled after the British Crime Survey victimization screen questions, and the survey used in Fisher et al. national-level university students victimization study, a self-report questionnaire developed to collect victimization, demographic, and lifestyle data from a random sample of students living on campus during the 1998-99 academic year. The comparison of the survey data found that overall on-campus victimization rates for the British students were significantly higher than for the students on the U.S. campuses. The research tested the lifestyle-routine activity theory by using a comparable sample of individuals within the same domain and identical measures of life-style routine activity in multivariate logit models. Overall the analyses supported previous research that shows lifestyle-routine activity characteristics are more explanatory of the risks of on-campus victimization than demographic characteristics. Supportive of the general victimization research, the results suggest that the on-campus opportunity structure is not the same for different types of victimization. The results also indicate that the on-campus opportunity structure is different across similar settings, namely, university campuses located in different countries. A more detailed analysis of why this is so was beyond the scope of the study. The findings suggest that future researchers should use comparative research designs to test the lifestyle-routine activity framework within the same domain to gain a better understanding of how lifestyle-routine activity influences the risk of victimization in different countries. 2 tables, 39 references, and appended definitions used in the studies and a description of measures and descriptive statistics

Date Published: January 1, 2003