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NCJ Number: 205738 Find in a Library
Title: Perceived Fears: The Reporting Patterns of Juvenile Homicide in Chicago Newspapers
Journal: Criminal Justice Policy Review  Volume:15  Issue:2  Dated:June 2004  Pages:132-160
Author(s): John G. Boulahanis; Martha J. Heltsley
Date Published: June 2004
Page Count: 29
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This study examined newspaper coverage of juvenile homicide in two major daily newspapers in Chicago between 1992 and 2000 from a social constructionist perspective.
Abstract: Although homicides involving juvenile offenders have been steadily declining since their peak in 1994, media coverage has played a substantive role in the perception that juvenile homicides are ever-increasing. Utilizing a social constructionist approach, the authors examined 117 stories from the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune that reported on actual homicides committed by juvenile perpetrators within the Chicago Police Department’s (CPD) jurisdictions. These newspaper accounts were compared to the actual CPD data on juvenile homicides. The spatial distribution of juvenile homicides reported in the newspapers was also examined with the use of ArcView. Finally, fear of crime among Chicago residents was measured using a random mail survey designed similar to the National Crime Prevention Survey; 126 respondents returned completed surveys. The results indicated that the newspapers were constructing an atypical image of juvenile crime in Chicago by over-reporting juvenile homicides involving females, Caucasians, and very young victims and offenders. Moreover, juvenile homicide cases from the northern districts of Chicago were over-reported compared with juvenile homicides occurring in the southern districts. The findings concerning public fear of crime indicated that the newspapers may influence perceptions of crime; those respondents who reported receiving most of their crime-related information from the newspapers also reported higher levels of fear of crime than respondents who reported receiving crime-related information from other sources. Causal conclusions from this study are impossible given the variety and complexity of variables influencing public fear and perception of crime. Future research should include multiple and follow-up news stories and, methodologically, researchers should consider the use of Geographic Information System technology for mapping purposes. Figures, tables, notes, references
Main Term(s): Juvenile murderers; Media coverage
Index Term(s): Fear of crime; Illinois; Perception; Trend analysis
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