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What is the Fear of Crime?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated May 17, 2024
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The fear of crime is an emotional condition that has the potential to lead to the development of a wide range of phobias. At times, this fear is associated with the possibility of becoming a victim of some sort of crime, or possibly the fear of being placed into a situation in which the individual is forced to commit a crime. Depending on the severity of this fear, the individual may be unable to participate in normal social activities, with the isolation only serving to increase the chances of developing a severe phobia.

For individuals who have a fear of being a victim of some sort of crime, the strong emotions may begin to cause them to avoid places where the chances of being victimized may occur. For example, if the fear of crime has to do with being afraid of being robbed, the individual may choose to avoid banks or retail stores where there is a significant amount of money on the premises. Over time, this fear of crime continues to increase avoidance of a wider range of places, effectively leaving the individual with only a few places in which he or she feels relatively safe from the possibility of being robbed. When this happens, the individual may develop agoraphobia, and no longer be able to be out in public and interact with others without a great deal of emotional and physical discomfort.

Another manifestation of the fear of crime is an unreasonable amount of concern about becoming the perpetrator of a crime rather than the victim. Here, the focus is on avoiding situations in which there is the temptation to commit some type of crime, a choice that can have an adverse effect on the career as well as the social life of the troubled individual. This type of phobia, sometimes known as peccatophpbia, can cause the individual to be afraid of not only possibly committing a crime but also of possibly having already committed some type of moral or ethical offense that is tantamount to committing an actual crime. As with most phobias, this can cause withdrawal from society and make it difficult for the individual suffering with the fear of crime from enjoying a normal life.

At times, there are identifiable root causes for the fear of crime. For example, someone who has been mugged by a young person may develop a fear of youth in general. In like manner, someone who is injured in a robbery attempt may find themselves with irrational fears that seriously impact their quality of life. Fortunately, therapy and sometimes the use of antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication can help bring the fear of crime under control and help restore a balance of emotions, including fears in general. People who find themselves avoiding places they once went freely because of fears of being a victim of a crime or committing a crime should seek professional help immediately.

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Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum , Writer
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including WiseGEEK, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.

Discussion Comments

By Soulfox — On Mar 24, 2014

In these troubling times, a fear of crime is often well founded. The simple fact of the matter is this -- people aren't as safe as they used to be. There was a time half a century ago when people could leave their cars unlocked with their keys dangling in the ignition and not worry about anything. People used to keep their homes unlocked, too.

It is no wonder, then, that some people are terrified of becoming victims of criminal activity. Perhaps such a fear is not completely bad -- it'll make someone careful and that can be a very good thing.

Malcolm Tatum

Malcolm Tatum


Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
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