Fear of Crime and Punitivity among University Students in Croatia

The project on fear of crime and punitivity among university students in Croatia was started by Anna-Maria Getoš Kalac in 2010, as national component of the “International Survey for University/College Students”. By repeating the survey four years later, the successful participation in this international project has evolved into a relevant longitudinal study with a highly considerable sample size.

This research project attempts to examine whether the relatively high level of safety throughout the region has influence on fear of crime among university students in Croatia and what attitudes towards punishment can be found among the same population. The second survey conducted in late 2014 created the possibility to compare the results and identify tendencies in both fear of crime and attitudes towards punishment.

The research has been conducted at the University of Zagreb, one of the oldest and biggest universities in Southeast Europe. It has encompassed a large sample of more than a thousand probands in each of the two surveys, which have included students coming from all parts of Croatia and from eight different faculties covering diverse fields – humanities, social sciences, engineering/technical sciences, and natural sciences.

The original English survey questionnaire was translated into Croatian and slightly adjusted, taking into account social and legal particularities of the country. It was then tested in two small pilot studies at the beginning of each survey. Students of the Study Centre for Social Work – participants in the seminar “Criminology with Criminal Law Basics” – actively participated in the carrying-out of the research. They assisted in improving the questionnaire and they have been instructed how to introduce the survey, explain its voluntary and anonymous nature, as well as how to handle participants’ questions. After the training, they distributed questionnaires during regular lectures at different faculties and later worked on the data entry in a SPSS database.

The results of the first phase of the research, i.e., the 2010 survey, demonstrated that there is a strong connection between fear of crime and gender, age, field of study, individual rank of values and general level of fear. The same has been true for punitivity. The results of the survey have shown that prior victimisation experience, however, does not considerably impact neither fear of crime nor attitudes towards punishment.The research project is currently in the phase of processing of the data collected in the second survey. First results and initial comparisons should be available at the MPPG web page in autumn, 2015.

MPPG contact for Fear of Crime and Punitivity: Assoc. Prof. Anna-Marie Getoš Kalac