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How Does Victimology Differ From Criminology?

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The field of criminology, the study of crime, incorporates many disciplines including victimology, a relatively new field which studies victims of crime and how victim characteristics may lead criminals to target them. Criminology has concentrated more on those who commit crimes.


Criminology as the scientific study of the criminal goes back to the 19th century, when Cesare Lombroso developed his theories about the origin of criminal traits and behavior. Victimology began in Europe after World War II as a way to understand the relationship between criminals and victims.

Studying Victims

Studying details about victims also can provide information about criminals and help in profiling or identification. Investigating trends and statistics about victims, such as their social status, work and working conditions can help authorities prevent or reduce different types of crime.

Cooperation with Police

Victimologists can help police interact more effectively with victims during interviews and involving hate crimes and crimes against different age groups.

Social Services

Victimology can help identify the needs of victims and provide assistance or provide information about appropriate sources of assistance.

College Degrees

Higher degrees in criminology have long been available. More schools are offering victimology as a criminology option rather than a stand-alone degree. The American Society of Victimology did not begin until 2003.


Lexa W. Lee is a New Orleans-based writer with more than 20 years of experience. She has contributed to "Central Nervous System News" and the "Journal of Naturopathic Medicine," as well as several online publications. Lee holds a Bachelor of Science in biology from Reed College, a naturopathic medical degree from the National College of Naturopathic Medicine and served as a postdoctoral researcher in immunology.

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