Alumni Research

October 28, 2015 at 1:17 pm

Vander Ven, Alumni Present on Race, Rape and Crime Reporting

Dr. Thomas Vander Ven

Dr. Thomas Vander Ven

Dr. Thomas Vander Ven, Professor of Sociology, chaired a panel on Media, Publicity, and Perceptions of Crime and presented “Race, Serial Rape, and Crime Reporting” with Ohio University alumni Lauren Wright ’10 &  ’14 and Clara Fesmire ’13 & ’15 at the Southern Criminal Justice Conference in September in Charleston, SC.

Wright, currently a doctoral student at the University of Central Florida, earned a bachelor’s in Sociology-Criminology in 2010 and an M.A. in Sociology in 2014 from the College of Arts & Sciences at Ohio University. Fesmire earned a bachelor’s in Sociology-Criminology in 2013 and an M.A. in Sociology in 2015.

The authors drew from major newspaper accounts spanning from 1940 to 2010 to develop a sociological profile of the American serial rapist and to identify patterns in victim selection and offender style.

Abstract: Just under 40 percent of all articles identified the race of the the suspect/perpetrator. Guided by theory and the empirical literature, we investigated possible race reporting bias in news accounts. That is, we wanted to know if crime reporters were more likely to report the race of a suspect/perpetrator if he or she was a racial or ethnic minority. To investigate this, we collected perpetrator/suspect race data from several alternative sources (e.g., sex offender registries, prison occupancy lists) to identify the race/ethnic category of those perpetrators/suspects who were NOT identified by race in news accounts. Based on our preliminary analysis, we found no support for the contention that crime reporters are more or less likely to report the race of specific offender groups. ”

The Southern Criminal Justice Association is a professional association serving criminal justice educators, researchers, practitioners, and students committed to the ongoing development of criminal justice science and practice. The conference provides opportunities to access the most current research findings on a wide range of criminal justice related topics. The topic of the conference this year was Advancing our Methodological Toolkit in Crime and Justice Research.

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