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September 25, 2023

Representation of Crime Victims

Representation of Crime victims

Goals of the activity: (1) Gain experience collecting and analyzing data, (2) learn how to interpret and use victimization data, and (3) develop a critical perspective on how crime victimization is represented in media.

Pre-Activity Reflection: In the space below, discuss who comes to mind when you hear the word “crime victim”, Provide a description and discuss what factors (e.g., culture, gender, age, socioeconomic) you think informed your view.

Directions: Record your responses in the spaces provided.

Part 1: Collect Data

Representation of Crime victims. Do a Google image search for “victim stock photos.” Record data for the first 50 images that appear in the Data Collection Table below. Exclude non-crime images in your count of 50 (e.g., heart attack victim). Use your best judgment to determine characteristics. It’s OK if you cannot determine one or more characteristics in a photo. Percentages may not add to 100% for this reason. If there is more than one victim in a single image and their characteristics differ (e.g. one young, one old), then count the image in both categories.

Data Collection Table

Victim characteristic Number of photos with characteristic Percent of all 50 photos

% = (Number / 50) * 100

Child victim (up through age 17)    
Young adult victim (age 18-39)


Middle-aged victim (age 40-65)


Older adult victim (age 65 and older)


White victim


Black victim


Victim neither White nor Black


Male victim


Female victim



Part 2: Identify Patterns

Use your data from the Data Collection Table above to answer these questions: What percentage of the photos included a female victim? A male victim? What percentage of the photos included a White victim? A Black victim? A victim who is neither White nor Black? What age group is most represented among the victims in the photos—children, young adults, middle-aged, or older persons? If someone were learning everything there is to know about criminal victimization based on these photos, what would they conclude? Include factors other than the demographics of victims.

Representation of Crime Victims

Part 3: Compare to NCVS data

Determine if the “typical victim” in the images matches what we know about the demographics of crime victims from the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS).  Examine the NCVS table below and use it to answer the questions that follow. What age group was most likely to report serious violent victimization? Report rates to support your answer. Are men/boys or women/girls more likely to report serious violent victimization? How large is the difference between their rates of victimization? Report rates. Which racial/ethnic groups are the most and least likely to report serious violent victimization? How large are the differences? Report rates. Do the photos you analyzed accurately represent the demographics of crime victims in the U.S., based on the NCVS data? Why or why not?

Part 4: Critical evaluation

Why does it matter if media representations of victims (in stock photos, news, social media, TV) fail to match the reality of victimization? Identify at least three possible consequences. Use APA referencing style.

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