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Careers in victimology span multiple fields including law enforcement, corrections, social services, child protection services and research analysis. Victimology takes a look at the relationships between victims and their offenders in an effort to determine an offender’s motive. Getting to know victims better gives police investigators clues about offenders. A study in social science, victimology also assesses the overall impact of crime on society, including public reactions to victimization.
Victim assistance programs provide services such as counseling and case management to victims of crime. Crime victim advocates help victims of crime navigate the justice system and deal with the physical injuries and emotional trauma they’ve suffered. Not all individuals react to crime victimization in the same way. The needs of victims differ depending on victim demographics and type of crime. For example, victims of violent crime generally find it more difficult to cope and need help overcoming the trauma. Victim advocates usually have college degrees in criminal justice, social work, psychology or a related human services discipline. Most receive additional training related to crisis intervention. Although licensure is not a requirement for victim advocates, voluntary certification is available through the National Advocate Credentialing Program.
Jobs in victimology include those of police officers and investigators. The study of victimology helps law enforcement officers understand the effects of crime on its victims and helps them to develop an understanding of victims’ rights. While each state has its own standards and training requirements for police officers and investigators, generally, individuals must have a valid driver’s license, be a US citizen, have education beyond high school and complete training at a police academy. There are minimum age and fitness requirements as well.
A criminal profiler is involved in the criminal investigation process. Understanding why certain victims are chosen for particular types of crimes can help profilers to identify the perpetrators of crimes and aid in their capture. As profilers search for the reasons why individuals become victims, they try to identify possible links between the victim and the offender. Based on the testimony of witnesses and by building a victim profile, a criminal profiler can construct an offender profile and narrow the list of suspects. Criminal profilers usually have college degrees in psychology, criminal justice or a social or behavioral science. Many have investigative or counseling backgrounds. They work for law enforcement agencies, the federal government as FBI profilers or independently as consultants.
Crime analysts look at why certain categories of people are targeted as victims of crime. They collect and study criminal data, examining situational factors that increase the risk of becoming a victim. Crime analysts help the police to identify leads by analyzing statistical data and maintaining databases of criminal activity. Federal agencies collect statistics for victimologists to analyze. The process helps to identify and predict patterns of behavior in an attempt to prevent certain types of crime and enhance public safety. Crime analysts must have proficient computer skills, complete a bachelor’s degree that includes coursework in sociology, statistics and research methodology and have experience working in a law enforcement agency.
- Crime Library: Victimology -- The Study of Victims in Criminal Investigations
- Education Portal: Victim Advocate Training Programs and Requirements
- National Organization for Victim Assistance: Help Crime Victims
- Algonquin College: Police and Public Safety Institute
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: How to Become a Police Officer or Detective
- Education Portal: Criminal Profiler -- Job Description, Duties and Requirements
- Education Portal: Crime Analyst -- Job Description, Duties and Requirements
Amber Keefer has more than 25 years of experience working in the fields of human services and health care administration. Writing professionally since 1997, she has written articles covering business and finance, health, fitness, parenting and senior living issues for both print and online publications. Keefer holds a B.A. from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania and an M.B.A. in health care management from Baker College.