Essay Example - Mendelsohn's Theory of Victimization and Victim Blaming

Published: 2023-11-12
Essay Example - Mendelsohn's Theory of Victimization and Victim Blaming
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Violence Criminal law Criminal justice Human rights
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1861 words
16 min read

In a broad overlook, criminology as a field came into existence in the academic genre by around the 19th century, to help in examining the various reasons as to why individuals engaged in criminal activities. In the same field, numerous theories have been developed that attempt to explain why people performed criminal acts and the appropriate measures that can be implemented to discourage them from further engaging in such behaviors. However, more ideologies, concepts, and thoughts have emerged as the world continues to transform in recent decades. Even though most of these postulations attempt to contradict the first developed theories of criminology, it is still apparent to acknowledge and appreciate that all new ideas are based on the foundation of these theories. Most importantly, people should understand that people who usually commit crimes only form about 50% of the overall equation (Wallace & Roberson, 2007). Therefore, it implies that although not all criminal incidences have one or more tangible victim(s), the majority, mainly the violent ones, do have. This introduces the idea of victimology, which is typically a subset of criminology.

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In a nutshell, Victimology usually examines criminal acts in a different perspective. It generally evaluates crimes by focusing on the nature and extent of the impact on the victims. Therefore, it can be summarized that victimology measures crime by comparing the relationship between two primary variables, which are the offender and the victim. Henceforth, the field tries to explain the roles that victims normally play in the criminal and juvenile justice system (Wallace & Roberson, 2007). As a result, it is visible that victimology prioritizes not only the victims of a particular crime, but also the victims for the human rights abuses at an international scope. The essential element of victimology is that it typically considers the victims of crime, instead of the crime itself. Perhaps, that is the reason as to why theories of victimology are widely used in the facilitation of restorative justice by human rights activists, and courts of law. It argues that healing is a better solution to punishment in the case of a criminal act. This research involves an in-depth analysis of Mendelsohn's theory of victimization and the field of victim-blaming (Sengstock, 1976). To gain a better understanding of these parameters, the five factors enlisted under the opportunity model of victimization, and the typology of victim elements from Mendelsohn’s theory are discussed, and compared significantly, to create a mutual understanding of a possible intersection between them.

Mendelsohn’s Theory of Victimization

Benjamin Mendelsohn acted as an attorney and faced several cases during his time in the criminology department (Wallace & Roberson, 2007). During this time, he knew as portrayed by the principal of victimology that criminal cases had various categories of victims. After undertaking long-term research using a questionnaire containing 300 questions for offenders, victims, and bystanders to collect data for use in making judgments, Mendelsohn was quick to conclude that incidences of crime can have varied categories of victims (Wallace & Roberson, 2007). The more notable implication of this theory in criminology is that it created a different view of crime. He was motivated to build the theory after realizing that numerous mistakes and errors characterized court decisions. Most of the attorneys had a closed perspective of holding offenders responsible for penalties and judgments, as long as cases while filed against them. However, Mendelsohn argued that while offenders might be guilty in most cases of crime, victims must also be evaluated strictly. In other words, the theory suggests that offenders and victims have a massive and mutual relationship (Wallace & Roberson, 2007). Conventionally, this kind of evaluation is of most significant for use in making ethical and fair decisions, especially in the determination of whether it is the offender or victims on the wrong side.

According to Mendelsohn, decisions should be made against those found most guilty, and in favor of those who are less guilty. Perhaps, Mendelsohn estimated that there are three categories of possibilities in the events of criminal acts (Wallace & Roberson, 2007). First, the offender could be the guiltiest person. Secondly, the victim might be the guilty ones, and thirdly, none or both can be guilty. To better explain this phenomenon in his theory so that its elements are applied on practical terms, he extended this classification in six other distinctive manifestations, generally known as victims' typologies.

Innocent Victim

Innocent victims refer to people who find themselves in the point of criminal incidence unknowingly, either at the wrong time, wrong place, or both. Examples of innocent victims may include but not restricted to: young children and unconscious people. For children, it might be a coincidence that they unknowingly appear in the scene of the crime, especially when one was victimized (Sengstock, 1976). In the court of justice, Mendelsohn suggested that children should typically be considered blameless, regardless of their presence in the scenes (Wallace & Roberson, 2007). When analyzing the questionnaire results, the creator of this theory asserted that 0% of the children got directly involved in the cause, enhancement, and termination of the crimes. The other category for the unconscious persons equally takes the same philosophy as it does with children. Studies completed by the Human Rights Act of 1976 stated that unconscious people never understood their undertakings whatsoever and, thus were not supposed to be held responsible for their deeds (Lasky, 2019). In a related study by Sigmund Freud in his psychoanalytic theory, the socialist stated that the unconscious mind defined an individual’s thoughts, beliefs, ideas, acts, and experiences outside the scope of consciousness. These findings imply that people's actions are customarily always being defined by their conscious or unconscious minds.

Most importantly, one must only be judged in the case of a crime of he/she is proven to be accountable for the activities that took place. Probably, neither a child, not an unconscious mind can justify why the crime took place and other associated events. When discussing issues of justice and fairness during judgments, then these are some of the categories that must be considered and given an upper hand, because they are always not guilty whatsoever even though they might occasionally appear in the scenes of criminal offenses out of their knowledge.

The Victims with Minor Guilt

Victims can also contribute to the occurrence of a criminal event, although at a smaller degree. It does not imply that they should be convicted for having caused the crime, but should otherwise be blamed for intentionally getting themselves in the problems. However, the offender is always guilty for causing the crime, but with no intentions of harming or victimizing an individual (Wallace & Roberson, 2007). At the same time, there might be no offender, in this case, upon evaluation based on different factors. Notably, a victim with a pang of minor guilt usually participates in events that increase the odds of a crime occurrence. The first example of such a scenario is when a woman does a miscarriage and unfortunately, dies.

It is indisputable that the woman is aware of the consequences which are afflicted on committing abortion, but she instead insists on performing it. When examining such an event, one should first understand that the woman first never intended to die, neither did she postulate that a similar problem can arise. When offering a penalty in this case, the victim is held responsible, so that she does not get herself in the same condition.

Another instance can be shown by a person who attends a bar on daily occasions, even after knowing that a bar is often a nightly place for assaults. When quarrels take place in the bar daily, there is a higher likelihood that the customers might be affected someday with the fights. Therefore, it is upon the victim to ensure that he/she refrains from attending the bar. However, this does not limit the judge or attorney from questioning the actual offender (Sengstock, 1976). This example is perfect because it increased the chances of getting victimized by frequently attending the bar, despite knowing that fights were a daily occasion.

The Guilty Victim and a Guilty Offender

The next demonstrated typology that Mendelsohn presents is an incidence where both victim and offender are guilty at the same rate (Wallace & Roberson, 2007). In such a scenario, a balanced judgment should be enacted so that none feels overlooked. Typically, this case is realized when the offender has the same degree of involvement in the crime as the offender. Because victimology examines crimes using the victims, this case often associates the victim as one of the driving forces that led to the criminal act. It is assumed that in the absence of the offender, the victim would have got nothing to trigger. At the same time, the offender would not have done the same degree of the crime if the victim was not involved.

Several examples can be drawn to explain this typology further. For instance, two people can initiate a plan to sell drugs so that they benefit themselves inform of profitability. Ideally, there must be specifically one person among the two who initially introduced the idea and eventually got the support of the other to finally get into the idea's implementation. Regardless of who started the conversation and got the idea, it is seamless and challenging to determine the person in the wrong and right side. Perhaps, an honest conviction to make in this case is that both are on the wrong side. So, both are victims at an equal degree. Other examples to further explain this typology is a group of people planning to steal a car. Others might also plan for a robbery in a shop or a particular home. In all of these cases, both the victim and the offender facilitated the occurrence of the crime.

The Guilty Offender and the Guiltier Victim

On some occasions, Mendelsohn found that not all offenders deserve punishments when lawsuits are filed against them (Wallace & Roberson, 2007). The next typology of this theory is when the offender does not plan or intend to commit the criminal offense, yet he is pushed by the victim to continue doing the crime. The assumption in this category of the victim typology is that in the absence of the victim, the offender would not have conducted it. Therefore, when declining a penalty on the offender, the victim should be the one to remain accountable for the event. Research completed by Lasky (2019) stated the possibility that Mendelsohn must have been thinking of a way to help reduce the consistent blames that are regularly imposed on offenders without justifications or proof of their guilt.

For example, two people can engage in a fight, and one ends up suffering a severe injury. If the one victim intentionally attacked the offender, but the offender acts strong enough to kill or defeat the victim, for reasons of self-defense, then it is the victim who is the most guilt. Here, the offender is the one who could have suffered the same or even more serious pain if he failed to act defensively. Therefore, when making the accusations, it would be imperative to convict the victim for having invoked the offender instead of blaming the offender.

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