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Victimology: A Dual Path Job in Support of Victims

In today's criminal justice arena, a victimology job could be in traditional social services areas or in various law enforcement capacities. Dictionaries define victimology as simply the "study of victims." In general application, it is a job that applies knowledge of social influences such as lifestyle, work and working conditions, health, and social status to patterns of crime. It looks at why some people or categories of people are victims of crime and how all elements of their environment affect the odds of being a victim. Careful study of such details from the criminal's perspective could point to why certain victims were chosen for a series of crimes, thus helping identify the perpetrator of those crimes.

In social services connected to law enforcement, a victimology background can be used in providing needed services to victims. In law enforcement investigation or prevention, statistics and trends could help identify criminals or put measures in place to reduce specific types of crime.

Jobs in the Field of Victimology

A victimology job might require specialization in victimology through a bachelor or associate degree earned in applied sciences, sociology, criminology or criminal justice. Some colleges and universities have, in the past few years, begun to offer degrees specifically in victimology.

The work can range from investigation and profiling to victim assistance or counseling. In other words, the career path could go toward providing services and crisis aid to victims or toward becoming a specialized, direct law enforcement officer. An expert in the field would make use of educational background in sociology, law, criminal justice and/or psychology -- and even statistical analysis.

Several federal agencies, for example, compile statistics that must be mined and analyzed to find patterns of violence toward women, to identify behavior that might predict when children are in danger of being abused, or to find what preventive measures can help schools stay free of crime.

Law enforcement detectives and officers might work with victimology experts not only for profiling criminals and predicting their behavior, but also be learn how best to handle certain situations where they are working with victims. For example, numerous state and federal agencies provide ongoing training or workshops on dealing with categories of victims, such as the elderly, children, or groups targeted for hate crimes. Officers would learn how best to notify family members of a victim's death or how to interview or prepare a child who will appear in court.

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