Callie Rennison Discusses Victimology

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    • 00:00

      [MUSIC PLAYING][How would you define victimology?]

    • 00:17

      CALLIE MARIE RENNISON, PHD: Victimology is the studyof really all things victim.This includes who becomes victims of violence, whichmay or may not be a crime.It's the response to the victimization.It's their interaction with the criminal justice systemor other seeking resources.And that's pretty much how I describe it to the students.[What is the value in learning about victimology?]

    • 00:42

      CALLIE MARIE RENNISON, PHD: Oh, Ithink it's valuable for anybody to learn about victimology.I mean at a minimum, people are going to probablynot make it through life without being victimized in some wayor at least having somebody they knowor close to a friend or a family member who are victimized.So it's important to understand these sorts of thingsso that you can respond to their needs well.You might be in a position where you're

    • 01:03

      CALLIE MARIE RENNISON, PHD [continued]: helping to create policy that might assistpeople who have been victims.So it's important to know it.And it's also important to understand risksso that we're living our lives carefully, but not fearfully.If you understand what risks of victimization are,where victimization tends to happen,then you're not being afraid of going out and things like that.[What first inspired you to start academic workin the field of victimology?]

    • 01:29

      CALLIE MARIE RENNISON, PHD: Like mostof the good things in my life, I stumbled on it blindly.I actually was kind of laughing.I oozed out of the swamp in the political science world,fell in love with data research methods,found myself in a sociology program alsoa little bit earlier.But I finished my PH.D. Out of political sciencewith just a love of data and research methods.

    • 01:52

      CALLIE MARIE RENNISON, PHD [continued]: I was looking online and found a positionat the Department of Justice that used a big datasetand thought this is awesome.So I ended up coming to DOJ and working with the National CrimeVictimization Survey.And at that time, I'd never had a criminology class in my lifeand I'd never even heard of the data.So I actually think there were advantages to that.Because I started sitting down with the data and answering

    • 02:12

      CALLIE MARIE RENNISON, PHD [continued]: questions that I had, which I thinkare questions that a lot of people in the publichave-- very basic questions.And educating myself in writing articlesand I think the substantive newness was greatfor me, because I was exploring and investigating.And of course, then over time yourealize this is useful for policyand it's actually helping people,which I think's a vital part of any of the work I do.

    • 02:33

      CALLIE MARIE RENNISON, PHD [continued]: I've got to think that it's somehowmaking the world a little better, even for a little.I was raised in Texas in a conservative householdand I was curious about race and victimization.And like a lot of people, my thoughtsare that whites were victimized at much higher ratesthan other groups.And so I wanted to run the data to see this.And to my great surprise, it wasn't the truth.

    • 02:55

      CALLIE MARIE RENNISON, PHD [continued]: I also thought that older people are victimized more,and that isn't the truth either.And so pretty much all of the stereotypesthat I was raised believing and the culturekind of perpetuating, turned out not to be the case.And so I thought, these basic questionsare so important for people to know.So often, especially if we're talkingabout race and criminology type things,

    • 03:17

      CALLIE MARIE RENNISON, PHD [continued]: you say a black male and people think offender.And I decided that I wanted to do work to change that--a little bit hopefully.And so if you talk about a black male,I want them to ask the question, do you mean as a victimor as an offender?Because we know their rates of victimization are quite high,but most people don't recognize that.I thought that females were victimized far more than males,

    • 03:39

      CALLIE MARIE RENNISON, PHD [continued]: and in certain types of violence that'sthe case-- sexual violence and intimate partner violence,there's no doubt about that.Although some people might disagree with me,but I have no doubt about it.But I think it's important for peopleto understand that young males are victimizedat incredibly high rates.And young males need to know that so theycan think a little bit about wherethey're going, what risk is, waysthey can protect themselves.

    • 04:01

      CALLIE MARIE RENNISON, PHD [continued]: I just think those are really important for allof us to understand.[What new research directions do you find most exciting,and where would you like to take your own research?]

    • 04:11

      CALLIE MARIE RENNISON, PHD: There's so much I want to doand there's so little time to do it.And I still find myself going backto methodological questions and definitional questionsand analytic technique questions.I love looking at reporting violence to the police.And recently I've kind of changed my perspective on it.Instead of working from the foundation of gosh,

    • 04:32

      CALLIE MARIE RENNISON, PHD [continued]: why doesn't everybody report to the police?We should report to the police.I think that's backward.I think I need to find out, why would anybodyreport to the police?And approach it with kind of some basic assumptions beingchallenged.That's a part of it.I've done a lot of pieces with reporting much to the police,but as a faculty member as all of us

    • 04:52

      CALLIE MARIE RENNISON, PHD [continued]: are, as you're chasing tenure and tryingto get more publications, I don'tfeel like I've had time to sit down and look at all of whatI've done and everybody else and put it into a whole,like synthesize it.What gaps remain?What can we do that's really helpful?I mean how many more regressions can Irun looking at reporting violence to the police?They're all saying the same thing at this point.So what new ways can I look at it?

    • 05:13

      CALLIE MARIE RENNISON, PHD [continued]: And that's one new direction I've takenis using conjunctive analysis to pay more attentionto situational context that are associatedwith outcomes versus variables.Variables are great, but we all know context matters.Conjunctive analysis, the way the analysisworks, it's made me recognize that-- thisis so difficult to articulate-- that I don't think that whensomebody is faced with reporting violence to the police

    • 05:36

      CALLIE MARIE RENNISON, PHD [continued]: that they think should I report to the police?I think it's far more complex than that.And right now, the way the data are set up Idon't know that we can address it in other ways.So I think people do a series of questions.Should I report it to the police?Should I not report it to the police?They're not two sides of the coin.They're very different decisions.And the choices they make togethersomehow determining whether they go forward or not.

    • 05:58

      CALLIE MARIE RENNISON, PHD [continued]: And that's going to require more qualitative research simply.[What are some of the key challenges of victimologyresearch?]

    • 06:08

      CALLIE MARIE RENNISON, PHD: I thinkone of the challenges of victimology researchis there's a fear to ask certain questions.And I think there are questions that need to be asked,but there is a fear of being accused of victim blaming.If you're looking at a situation in which an individual wasvictimized, I think we need to look at the entire situation.

    • 06:29

      CALLIE MARIE RENNISON, PHD [continued]: And unfortunately, if you look at certain elements of it,people say that you're blaming the victim, and it's not.There's a difference in understandingwhat are elements of a situation that contributeto a higher probability of victimizationversus blaming the person.So I do hope over time, continuingto be sensitive about victim blaming, because nobody'sa fan of that, we can ask some of the harder to ask questions.

    • 06:51

      CALLIE MARIE RENNISON, PHD [continued]: So that's one of the things.I think another thing that makes victimologya little extra difficult is the lackof theoretical development.This is not to say we do have theory.There is development, but I wish wehad a lot more of it going on.So much of the work is atheoretical.When I was a graduate student, I hadto take a theory development class and I was terrible at it.

    • 07:12

      CALLIE MARIE RENNISON, PHD [continued]: And I'm so sad that I don't have an opportunityto do that again or the time.And I wish all grad programs required thisso that we have students coming outwho can help to develop theory and give us more to work with.And also the tie between the data that we haveand the theories that are out there, often there'sa disjoint between the two so we can't test them very well.

    • 07:33

      CALLIE MARIE RENNISON, PHD [continued]: That's really frustrating.The third item I think is just the lack of timethat we all have.And this isn't specific to victimology,it's just to the academic world.And that is that you've got a job,you've got pressure to publish, you'vegot service you're doing, you've got teaching you're doing.I think most people want to do a great job at all of themand they do that.But it comes at a cost of using a lot of time.

    • 07:55

      CALLIE MARIE RENNISON, PHD [continued]: And there's so little time to stop and think deeplyabout the work we're doing versus getting it out, gettingit in the system.Because if you're on a six-year tenure clock,that goes by very, very quickly.You write a paper, it takes a year.You send it out for review, that could be a year.You get an R and R and it's a little more time.Next thing you know it's your three-year review.

    • 08:16

      CALLIE MARIE RENNISON, PHD [continued]: So I wish somehow the system were set upto give us more time to think more deeplyand not pay the price.[Are there any major academic debates in the fieldof victimology?]

    • 08:30

      CALLIE MARIE RENNISON, PHD: I thinksome of the major debates, I meanI'm sure there are a lot of debates,but the ones that interest me mosthave to do with definitions and measurement.Definitions of a lot of things-- I mean in the social sciencesand victimology we're studying conceptsthat are really difficult to define and measure.And for that reason, there's never going to be agreement.

    • 08:51

      CALLIE MARIE RENNISON, PHD [continued]: And I don't think that's necessarily bad.I think having a variety of definitionsand a variety of measurement give us a richer understandingof whatever the concept is.I mean, rape is a great example of that.There's a wide variety of the ways that it's definedand there's a wide variety of the ways that it's measuredand so there's a lot of debate about estimates of itin other things.I do hope that the debates never get

    • 09:12

      CALLIE MARIE RENNISON, PHD [continued]: in the way of us realizing that we're all on the same team,and we're all trying to move the knowledge forwardfor the benefit of society.I hate sometimes when I see some debates wherethere's actual anger between people about the way thingsare done.I think there's room for all of it.[How important are research methodology and methodsfor a rigorous analysis of victimology?]

    • 09:35

      CALLIE MARIE RENNISON, PHD: You cannot study this,understand it, conduct research, you have got to have a strongfoundation in methods and in statistics.By methods I mean all of it-- qualitativemethods, quantitative methods, mixed methods.It's so, so important.At a minimum, even if somebody is notgoing to go on to become a researcher,you may be in a position to help create policy or administer

    • 09:59

      CALLIE MARIE RENNISON, PHD [continued]: services to people who benefit from it.You have got to be able to understandwhat's going on in research papersand it's not that hard to do.And I know that they're not maybe the most fun reading,but there are ways to get that and you'vegot to be a critical consumer of the information.You've got to ask those questions.What is the definition used?What is the measure used?And I think that-- I mean being the critical consumer

    • 10:19

      CALLIE MARIE RENNISON, PHD [continued]: just helps you everywhere.One of the problems is a lot of people are not that criticalof consumers of information.For that reason, we get numbers that are repeated over and overand over again that aren't true.They're not right.They're not even what the original research said,but people are repeating it, policy's being based off of it,people are changing their lives off of it.And it's not for the better.So I just think it's the most important part of things

    • 10:41

      CALLIE MARIE RENNISON, PHD [continued]: that people can do as a student, but even as somebodyafter you've moved on, when you're reading information,you're being given the information,be a critical consumer of it.And methods and stats are a part of that.[How important is theory in the study of victimology?]

    • 10:57

      CALLIE MARIE RENNISON, PHD: That's a great question for me.I've been accused of having a lot of atheoretical work,and in a way it's true.And that kind of goes back to an earlier thoughtthat I had on the lack of theory in victimology, and again,not to say that we don't have any, but I wish we had more.And I wish we had more that we could test,because a lot of our data doesn't align with it.

    • 11:19

      CALLIE MARIE RENNISON, PHD [continued]: I think it's vitally important and until the field continuesto mature and we get more, well we'regoing to do some exploratory workand maybe develop information thatmight help develop that theory.But I think it's as important as good methods and good stats.[How has the field changed in recent years,and what developments do you consider most significant?]

    • 11:42

      CALLIE MARIE RENNISON, PHD: I wasgoing to say-- but this isn't truefor victimology and criminology is the gender change.It used to be and this is university-wide, too.More and more of our students are female,which is certainly great, but I hopethat we don't become all of one of anything.So it's been a really interesting change.Victimology especially, I think is one.

    • 12:03

      CALLIE MARIE RENNISON, PHD [continued]: I think what surprised me most in changes in recent yearsis topics of interest.Sex trafficking-- human trafficking is huge right now.Pretty much every student who comes into the program.I get calls from students thinking about the programand they want to know what we're doing about sexand human trafficking.You didn't hear this from students even three years ago.

    • 12:23

      CALLIE MARIE RENNISON, PHD [continued]: We've had discussions asking where are the males going.And I'll go to say community colleges to give a lectureand talk about victimization.And one of the things I try to talk to them aboutis the importance of getting an education.Because whether they come to where I am or they go anywhere,they need to continue to get an education.And these community college classes are at least 50%

    • 12:44

      CALLIE MARIE RENNISON, PHD [continued]: male, if not more.Then you look at bachelor students, where I am,and other people've talked about this, too,and the ratio is much smaller.And then at the grad level, at leastin criminology, victimology and sociology classesare dominated by female students.I'm not really sure what it is, but it's very interesting.And there is one benefit of it, too,

    • 13:04

      CALLIE MARIE RENNISON, PHD [continued]: is that people are a little more interested in studying peoplelike them.So we've got a lot more people workingin the victimology field, which I think is fantastic.Nothing bad can come from that.[Why do you think there has been a growth in research focusedon violent victimization?]

    • 13:20

      CALLIE MARIE RENNISON, PHD: I think there'sa couple of reasons for it.I think a and this touches on technology.The technology has allowed it.It's allowed us to gather data from a larger group of peoplein a quicker time.So you can gather data.You have now the technology and the computing powerto analyze it, and analyze it in a lot of different ways.

    • 13:40

      CALLIE MARIE RENNISON, PHD [continued]: I mean it wasn't that long ago that youcan look at some old articles and the mostsophisticated thing they have in there is a two- or three-waycross tabs.Well, it wasn't because people didn'tthink there were other ways, that was the computingpower available.Now we can gather data, go download it from my CPSR,get it set up, run an analysis and in a day or twohave regression completed.

    • 14:01

      CALLIE MARIE RENNISON, PHD [continued]: That wasn't like that before.So I think that has contributed a little bit to growth.[Can you provide any examples of key research in the field thathas has a direct impact on policy?]

    • 14:14

      CALLIE MARIE RENNISON, PHD: Thereare a lot of examples of it.One that's sort of contemporary hasto do with violence against college females, especially.So there's been some victimization research lookingat, but that's gone back for a long, long time.It's hardly new research, but it justseems to get more attention right now.And as a result of this, there havebeen policies made by universities

    • 14:35

      CALLIE MARIE RENNISON, PHD [continued]: to protect students and to educate studentsabout risk of victimization.But also from outside, policies changed to tell universitieshow to deal with it.I don't think all of the changes are necessarily positive,but I think it's important that universitiesare at least focused on it and being held accountablefor their actions.You cannot ignore that stuff anymore.

    • 14:57

      CALLIE MARIE RENNISON, PHD [continued]: [Why do you think that recently there has been more focuson victimology research?]

    • 15:04

      CALLIE MARIE RENNISON, PHD: Mary Kosshas looked at this for decades and it got a lot of attentionbecause people argued a lot about definitions,but it just didn't resonate into the mainstream.I think one reason just having this discussionis Jon Krakauer's book, Missoula.So he wrote this book.It's a really excellent book.It's talking about one place, but people read it.

    • 15:26

      CALLIE MARIE RENNISON, PHD [continued]: Now they're saying, wow, there's a problem.You've got other documentaries like The Hunting Ground that'sgetting a lot of public attention.So it's got people, I don't know kind of riledup to focus on it, and they're demanding things being done.I think as a researcher who's done this for a little whileand certainly not as long as some other people whoare great researchers out there, there'sa little part of me that's sad that that's what it

    • 15:48

      CALLIE MARIE RENNISON, PHD [continued]: took for the public to hear it.But you know if that's what it takes for the publicto hear it and understand there's a problem that weneed to really focus on it seriously, then that's OK.My discussion this morning, my panel this morning,actually focused on this.And it has to do with definitions and measurementand it's the conflating that's happening between campus crimeand violence against college students.A lot of this is looking at females only.

    • 16:10

      CALLIE MARIE RENNISON, PHD [continued]: Those are very different things.And we know and we've known from research back into the 70sthat campuses are relatively safe places,but college students are victimized at very high rates,primarily off campus.So I think we have to be careful as researchersand keep beating the drum so that the public is educated.That it's not that campuses that are necessarily

    • 16:30

      CALLIE MARIE RENNISON, PHD [continued]: the dangerous places.That this is an age group and there are some other thingsthat are going on with this particular population thatput them at higher risk.But they need to know where that is.I have had people who've come to meand said that they're not going to sendtheir daughters to college because theyfear they're so dangerous now.So we have to be careful about what that is.And my presentation today showed that the rate of victimization

    • 16:52

      CALLIE MARIE RENNISON, PHD [continued]: for college students off campus is 12 times that of on campus.That said, I've got national estimates of this,but every campus is very different,because they vary in many ways.Dormitory populations-- this is associated with higheron-campus victimization.Fraternal organizations, sport organizations, is it rural,is it nearer unemployed, you know urban areas?

    • 17:14

      CALLIE MARIE RENNISON, PHD [continued]: So it's really important for somebodyto understand the campus that they're interested in.Not to take one, any one estimate out thereand apply it to all campuses, because they're allvery different.[MUSIC PLAYING]

Callie Rennison Discusses Victimology

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Professor Callie Marie Rennison discusses the field of victimology and how it has changed in recent years. She explains that many ideas about victims are based on stereotypes that are completely untrue. Rennison also points out that more and more women are entering the field.

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Callie Rennison Discusses Victimology

Professor Callie Marie Rennison discusses the field of victimology and how it has changed in recent years. She explains that many ideas about victims are based on stereotypes that are completely untrue. Rennison also points out that more and more women are entering the field.

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