Crime Victims' Decisions to Call the Police: Past Research and New Directions

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Over the past 50 years, researchers in the United States and abroad have debated the inherent inequities within justice systems that contribute to the underreporting of crime to the police. Our review summarizes existing knowledge about victim reporting and outlines new directions in theory and empirical research that situate this work within a broader perspective on victim help-seeking. We begin with a short review of the historical development of research on victim reporting and its implications for research and social policy. We then review and critique major explanations of victims' reporting behavior and outline a new integrated multilevel framework. This model draws on the broader help-seeking literature to study police notification and other forms of victim help-seeking as interrelated systems that respond to social-contextual factors and feedback effects. We conclude by outlining the core empirical implications of this multilevel theoretical framework and illuminating the most significant data and research needs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)217-240
Number of pages24
JournalAnnual Review of Criminology
StatePublished - Jan 13 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Law


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