Tag Archives: criminology

  • A Holistic Approach to Victims and Victimology

    To mark the publication of Victimology: A Canadian Perspective, author Jo-Anne Wemmers explains the emerging field of victimology and why the book’s victim-centred, holistic approach is important.

    Wemmers_VictimologyEvery day, around the world victims of crime make news headlines. While society reacts with outrage and cries for justice, victims are often given relatively little attention or the attention given to them is short-lived. Even the criminal justice system, which relies heavily on victims as witnesses, generally fails to recognize victims as persons before the law. This despite the fact that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights specifies that each and every one of us has a right to recognition as a person before the law. Crime constitutes a violation of the victims’ rights as well as an act against the state. Victims’ rights are human rights.

    Victimology is an exciting new science which has emerged in recent years into a well-defined domain of research. It examines the causes and consequences of victimization with a view to preventing victimization and reducing its negative impact on the individual as well as society. Originally a product of criminology, victimology was born in the ashes of the Second World War in order to help explain crime. However, over the last sixty years it has come to change the way we look at crime. Victimology has matured from a progeny of criminology to a source of knowledge and inspiration for criminology, influencing the kinds of questions that criminologists focus on.

    Research on poly-victimization (Finkelhor et al 2007) or multiple crime-type victimization (Hope et al 2001) reminds us of the importance of viewing victimization as a sign of vulnerability and a predictor of future risk of victimization. For example, victimization experienced during childhood is associated with a high risk of violent victimization later on in life (FRA 2014; Perreault 2015). An individual may experience many different types of victimization across the course of their life and by focusing exclusively on specific types of victimization at once we risk losing sight of the bigger picture.

    Books on victimology often approach victimization in a segmented way with each chapter focusing on a different type of crime. There may be a chapter on sexual violence, one on domestic violence, and another on burglary. Sometimes they focus on particular categories of victims, such as the elderly. While it is important to recognize the specificities of different types of victimization and victims, it is also important not to treat victimization in isolation.

    Victimology: A Canadian Perspective provides students with a holistic approach to the study of victimology. The book devotes an entire chapter to victimological theories, which encourage students to understand and explain victimization and its effects in order to prevent re-victimization in the future. Applying a victim-centred lens to victimology, this book reminds us of the impact of victimization on the individual and the importance of victim support in order to prevent future victimization.

    Based on the Canadian criminal justice system, Victimology provides a comprehensive understanding of victims’ legal rights in Canada. It offers a timely, state-of-the-art overview of key federal and provincial legislation pertaining to victims, including the Canadian Charter of Victims’ Rights. Victims’ rights and services are approached from a need-based perspective, providing a critical analysis of victim compensation programs across Canada.

    While Victimology presents research from around the world, it is uniquely Canadian in its approach to criminal justice policy and practice, making it an ideal teaching tool for victimology students in Canada. At the same time, the Canadian context is contrasted with systems found elsewhere around the world, providing a rich, comparative analysis. This makes the book a valuable resource for anyone interested in comparative victimology.

    Bibliography

    Finkelhor, D., Ormrod, R.K. & Turner, H.A. (2007b). Poly-victimization: A neglected component in child victimization. Child Abuse and Neglect, 31, 7-26.

    FRA-European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (2014). Violence Against Women: EU Wide Survey Main Results. Luxemburg: Publications Office of the European Union.

    Hope, T., Bryan, J., Trickett, A. & Osborn, D. (2001). The Phenomena of Multiple Victimization: The relationship between personal and property crime risk. British Journal of Criminology, 41, 595-617.

    Perreault, S., (2015). Criminal Victimization in Canada, 2014. Juristat, Catalogue No. 85-002-X, Ottawa: Statistics Canada.

    Jo-Anne M. Wemmers is a Full Professor in the School of Criminology at the University of Montreal and an international expert on victimology. She has published over 100 articles, chapters, and books on the subject, is a past secretary-general of the World Society of Victimology, and is the editor of the International Review of Victimology.

  • The Colonial Problem

    To mark the publication of The Colonial Problem: An Indigenous Perspective on Crime and Injustice in Canada, the author, Lisa Monchalin, provides a few thoughts on the impetus behind the book as well as its pedagogical features.

    Colonial ProblemMy main motivation for writing this book was to make a difference. I want to reduce the criminalization and victimization that Indigenous peoples experience in this country. This motivation stems from personal and family experiences. I went through some traumatic experiences as a child, and endured things that no child should ever have to endure. My father has been targeted and treated unjustly at the hands of police officials. And my Grandma Monchalin—to whom I dedicate this book—is a survivor of violence.

    In addition, being Native in our family was always a great source of shame. It was something that older generations tried desperately to hide in their attempt to “protect” the future generations. Thus, this book is also an act of resurgence against this shame. My Grandma Monchalin told me that on the day I was born, and upon her first sight of me, two things came to her. First, she felt that I would be someone in our family who would stand up to the shame, and play a role in making it okay to be who we are as Native peoples, and second, she felt that I would make a difference for our peoples. This book tries to fulfil my Grandma’s vision.

    The Colonial Problem came out of the material gathered, researched, and used in courses I teach on Indigenous victimization and justice. I bring together many voices in this book, and present the perspectives of many different Indigenous scholars, teachers, and knowledge keepers from across Turtle Island. I include perspectives of some non-Indigenous ally scholars and others as well, but purposely draw primarily on Indigenous voices. This is because Indigenous voices are not heard enough. Sometimes the excuse is made that there is not enough Indigenous scholarship or writing, but that is a colonial falsehood. Large amounts of Indigenous people’s writings, work, and research exist.

    I also wrote this book knowing that I needed to present material in a way that would captivate students who are used to the dominant Western methods of arriving at knowledge and “truths.” I therefore tried to balance the way in which I present material. Throughout the book I draw on a large array of sources, including statistical data, academic literature from across disciplines, scientific reason and at the same time traditional knowledges, voices from the Indigenous community, elder knowledge, and other non-Western resources. At the end of every chapter there are discussion questions, proposed activities, and recommended readings. The discussion questions get students thinking critically about the material presented in the chapters. The activities provide suggestions for related documentaries, YouTube videos and music videos, ideas for class trips, guest speaker recommendations, and in-class activities. Finding the right balance to present material was not easy. It took a lot of writing, and rewriting. But I had to remain optimistic. Whenever I was faced with a struggle, I thought of my Grandma, and the reason I was writing this book—which kept me motivated.

    With this book, I am addressing the need for a text written for Indigenous courses offered in criminology, sociology, and victimology programs (and others) across Canada. The broad goal is to provide an expansive consideration of the injustices affecting Indigenous peoples. The purpose is to reach students who might pursue careers within the government, and in the criminal justice system, victim services, or other service provider fields. People need to know true histories and realities. There must be a consciousness raising in this country. Indigenous perspectives and histories can no longer be pushed to the periphery of educational systems. Rather, they must be included within all departments and subjects.

    It is my belief that education is a crucial starting point for rectifying the injustices of criminalization and victimization that Indigenous peoples experience daily. The need to educate is one of the reasons I chose to write a textbook because, as Dakota Sioux scholar, visionary, and activist Vine Deloria Jr. says, the “problems” affecting Indigenous peoples “have always been ideological,” so it is vitally important that Indigenous peoples choose the ideological arena as the one in which we make a difference. Textbooks help form ideology, so consider this book a form of “ideological leverage” (Deloria, 1969: 251-252).

    Overall, I enjoyed writing this book. At times it evoked emotion, notably when considering the cycle of violence and colonial legacies that have impacted my great Grandma, Grandma, and Father. My passion might stem from a dark place, but it is the driver for change, a drive that seeks to bring light to future generations of university students in Canada.

    Lisa Monchalin teaches in the Department of Criminology at Kwantlen Polytechnic University in British Columbia. She is the first Indigenous woman in Canada to hold a PhD in Criminology. Follow her on Twitter @lmonchalin.

    References:

    Deloria, Jr., Vine (1969) Custer Died for Your Sins: An Indian Manifesto, New York: Macmillan.

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