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History of the Crime Victims Movement

Violent crime in America has become a national crisis and, as a result, America's mental health, health care, and public safety systems are seriously challenged. Recent surveys have helped create new understanding of the scope of crime and its impact. The mental health impact of violent crime can be seen in the prevalence of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among women with a history of violent victimization and individuals who have lost a family member to homicide. This chapter will discuss scope and impact of crime in America, the foundations of the rule of law in this country, the four somewhat diverse movements that pre-dated the victims' rights discipline and set the stage for its emergence, and the history of the victims' rights discipline in five distinct stages. In addition, the emergence of new organizations dedicated to assisting crime victims is described, as well as the challenges facing the field today.

Learning objectives include:

  • The extent to which violent crime is a concern for Americans.
  • The scope and cost of violent crime and the extent to which it has increased in recent years.
  • The extent to which concerns or fears about crime have affected the way Americans live and the broader impact of violence on an individual's world view.
  • The origins of the rule of law in the United States.
  • The origins and historical stages of the crime victims' rights movement in the United States.
  • The major crime victim advocacy organizations and critical legislative and policy accomplishments of the victims' rights discipline over the past thirty years.
  • The history of crime victim services in South Carolina.