Victimology: Themes, Patterns, Victim Portrayal, and The Media

This academic write-up is a part of a Victimology discussion assignment on themes, patterns, victim portrayal and the media. Predetermined news clips of victim portrayal were used for the purposes of completing this assignment.

What specific themes can you derive from these TV news clips? How are the victims portrayed? What are their characteristics? How do the media reinforce these images and perceptions? Do these characteristics support the patterns that we discern from the official crime statistics referenced in the text?

The Ernesto Story

Themes

The Ernesto story depicts the young boy as a victim.  He would nearly qualify as a high-risk victim based on our readings and the course lectures.  Ernesto is a Hispanic male and he lives in poverty.  The only factor that would not qualify him as a high-risk victim in the themed presentation is the fact that Ernesto is of a very young age (Karmen, 2007; LeClair, 2007).

Victim Portrayal

Ernesto is portrayed as an innocent child victim, who presumably, at the hands of his own mother, received a very painful punishment that sent him to the hospital.

Media Reinforcement of Portrayal

Ernesto is portrayed as an innocent child victim who has been punished for presumably being a “naughty” kid.  Throughout the report, you could see images of Ernesto in a hospital room with bandaged body parts and life-saving apparatus hooked up to him.  Then the report proceeded to show the ransacked apartment, where the boy lived with his accused mother.  Verbal statements have been given about the boy and his other siblings living in horrendous conditions.  In my opinion, the media invalidated the mother’s statements and condemned before the legal trial.

Patterns

The events that were reported put Ernesto (the victim) within the realm of official statistics.  Amidst his young age (a disqualifier), he still remains a minority of a Hispanic descent.  Moreover, he is portrayed to have an impoverished lifestyle in an urban setting, and since he has been presumably victimized by his mother (a family member), that further shows the validity of the pattern presented (Karmen, 2007).

The Quincy Story

Themes

Based on an unconfirmed report by the media, the victim was at one point a victimizer; armed robber.  If this is true, the fact that he was a white male, within his 30s, and with a prior criminal record validates the reference Karmen (2007) makes in the course text: “most perpetrators and many of their victims had been in trouble with the law before their final showdown” and that “about 45 percent of the deceased turned out to have criminal records (arrests or convictions for misdemeanors or felonies)” (p. 89).

Victim Portrayal

The victim was vilified by the media from the beginning of the report.

Media Reinforcement of Portrayal

The omnipresent vilification within this news piece was quite heavily supported by the biased comments of the outspoken reporter, who repeatedly mentioned the victim’s prior involvement, or insinuations of prior involvement, in the world of crime.  Not only was the victim vilified, but he was also undignified, as according to the reporter the victim’s body laid next to a car: “only 30 feet behind me” – as the newscaster so prominently said.

Patterns

Official crime statistics and the Quincy murder victim are tied in closely.  The victim is: male, in his 30’s, most likely single, living in lower to middle class environment and with a prior criminal record.  Moreover, the news report further adds strength to this assertion by having viewers assume that there were two white males involved in the killing of the Caucasian victim. This supports the intraracial assertion by Karmen (2007).

Resources

Karmen, A. (2007). Crime victims: An introduction to victimology (6th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing.

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Article written by Radek Gadek

Radek holds a Master’s degree in Criminal Justice from Boston University. He is currently doing consulting work and runs this blog to provide relevant information on criminal justice degrees, colleges and related careers.

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