Scelerophobia (Fear of Crime) is the fear or belief that criminal activity will happen to you. Those affected by this fear believe that they are the target of all varieties from the criminal element. They believe they will be robbed, murdered, raped or suffer something tragic as the result of crime. Scelerophobia is related to another phobia called Harpaxophobia, which is the fear of robbers, thieves or being robbed.
The fear of crime is not uncommon. Today, crime is increasingly prevalent and happening to people across all age groups. The extent a person fears crime is dependent on several factors that will be mentioned later. It is normal to have a fear of crime because people naturally have a need for self-preservation, but where things go wrong is when the natural fear is taken over by an irrational, all-consuming one.
Those affected by Scelerophobia typically take unusual measures to protect themselves from crime. They avoid going out at night when crime is more likely to happen. They would prefer to travel in groups, purchase state-of-the-art security systems and thoroughly research a destination and its surroundings before travelling there.
Trauma: Typically, this specific or more commonly known as an “isolated” phobia exists in a person based on previous trauma. When a phobia occurs without other ones at the same time, chances are there is an event that occurred to precipitate this fear. A comparable example of this is a child or adult afraid of spiders based on being bitten by one in the past.
Upbringing: A second cause of this fear may originate from parental upbringing. If the person’s parents trained them to be afraid of crime based on their own traumatic experiences with it, the child will take on that belief system. Many years ago, families lived in neighborhoods where they were comfortable enough to leave their doors unlocked. But as time passed and the wealth gap between classes grew, criminality rose generating the need for greater security.
Learned Behavior: A third cause of this phobia comes from experiences. Being inundated with too much crime has a negative effect on the brain. Media in the form of television, movies, music and more, that is heavy laden with criminal elements will make the consumer more fearful. Conversely, a person who only watches and listens to things of a good nature will believe that the world is a good place and they will feel safe.
Gender: This tends to be the greatest predictor of crime. Women fear crime at a greater rate than men based on the higher likelihood of sexual assault. Also, women that become the victims of a crime, unfortunately, tend to be blamed for bringing it on themselves. This, in turn, causes a cycle of fear to spread to other women that aren’t victims, to fear the same treatment.
Transference: This happens when someone the person knows has experienced a criminal event in their life. The person feels the effects in such a deep-rooted way, that they take on the feelings the person they know has experienced.
Age: As a person ages, they become may become more concerned about being the victim of a crime. As their strength fades and their ability to defend from attacks becomes diminished, this can increase their feelings of fear regarding criminals. Elderly people are at higher risk of being victims of crimes for these same reasons.
Environment: The environment a person lives in is either a primary source of comfort or fear. Those who live in safe communities have little reason to fear because of the lack of danger around them. However, those who live in violent, crime-ridden areas, they have more reason to fear because danger is virtually at their doorstep at all times.
The first step to preventing fear is to understand the circumstances that created it in the first place. Fear is created out of a person’s natural need for self-preservation. However, when the concern for self-preservation is taken too far, scelerophobia is created. There is a particularly effective method for treating scelerophobia known as anchoring.
Anchoring is the process of using a person’s ability to link feelings to their experiences. One example of this is experiencing a very happy moment in life. A person during this experience may also remember something else in great detail about the day like, the temperature or if there was a specific song playing on the radio. This link causes that person to become anchored to that experience every time they hear that song or are reminded of anything related to that moment in their life.