Author: Hewitt, Ashley Nicole
Traditionally, scholars have taken an offender-centred approach to the understanding of sexual violence that has resulted in treatment practices and community management strategies that focus primarily on the person responsible for the crime irrespective of the other factors that may have played a role in the offence. There is, however, a small but growing literature within this field that has shifted the etiological focus from just that of the offender to the other actors involved in the offence, as well as the environment in which each event occurs. Although the importance of this latter factor is recognized in these studies, the utility it has for theory development and practical implications for sexual offences is still unclear due to the methodological approaches previously taken and the conceptual definitions used. In an effort to overcome these limitations, three interrelated empirical papers compose this thesis that draw from the field of environmental criminology, specifically the criminology of place, to investigate the spatial and temporal patterns of 2,260 sexual crimes that occurred within a large city in British Columbia between August 1, 2002 and July 31, 2006. The first study investigates where sexual crimes take place by examining their spatial distribution and its stability over time using four spatial scales of analysis. These findings set the stage for the second study that identifies the social and physical characteristics of those places that experience high counts of sexual violence. The final study determines when these crimes occur within this city, studying this phenomenon at both the seasonal and intraweek levels, as well as their temporal stability over this five-year period. The collective contributions from this thesis emphasize the applicability and utility of such an approach to the study of sexual violence that puts the unit of analysis on the place, rather than the offender. In doing so, theoretical, methodological, and practical suggestions are put forth that may better the understanding of sexual violence and complement current prevention strategies and sex offender management tools.
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Thesis advisor: Beauregard, Eric
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