Predicting Adolescent Fear of Crime Through the Lens of General Strain Theory


This study examines the effect of neighborhood disorder and strain on adolescent fear of crime while controlling for demographic and contextual variables that have previously been demonstrated as having an association with fear of crime. Earlier work has suggested that feelings of powerlessness have a significant impact on fear of crime among adolescents; thus strain theory (derivatives of which deal with both perceptions of blocked opportunities and powerlessness to achieve positively valued goals) may impact fear of crime as well. Using data from self-report surveys of approximately 700 adolescents from a southeastern state, multiple regression analyses indicate that those adolescents who felt most “strained” had significantly higher levels of fear of crime than their counterparts. This relationship persisted even after controlling for known predictors of fear of crime. Explanations for these findings, as well as their ramifications for social policies and future research, are discussed.

Publication Title

Sociological Focus