Victimology in its most simple form is the study of the victim or victims of a particular offender (Roberson. & Wallace, 2011). I feel that the Victims’ Movement has not yet reached its full potential because just like every form of law, legislature or even government there is always ways to improve and to become stronger. Much like when we started to form our government it had so many flaws and it still today has the ability to improve. The problem is that as society changes and crime changes the laws and the system have to change with it in order for things to improve.
When it comes to crimes it isn’t just the victim that is affected, everyone involved is affected including the offender and the society. Starting in the 1960’s victims of crime began to volunteer with many different programs to assist other victims, speaking on their behalf and trying to fight for rights and fighting for a voice. Because of these actions we now have programs like Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA) which is an agency that provides funds for law enforcement to establish victim-witness programs (Roberson, Wallace, 2011).
The downfall in creating programs like this is the funding, having the money to pay for them. That was exactly the problem in in the 70’s and 80’s, not enough funding to keep them going. This is a problem for a lot of law enforcement and criminal programs. Not to be discouraged the movement just started to move into specialized groups such as National Coalition Against Sexual Assault, and POMC; Parents of Murdered Children. Another one that we hear about a great deal still today is MADD which is Mothers Against Drunk Drivers founded in 1980 by Candy Lightner whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver (Roberson,Wallace,2011).
Having these programs can be so helpful to so many people that it is important to have the money to fund them; this can be a problem for those who need it. So what is there for us to do to ensure that they remain available? Are there ways to continue to be effective? I feel that there are ways to ensure that the Victims Movement reaches its absolute full potential and to ensure that nobody goes unnoticed that may need such programs. I feel that it is important to have contingency plans and goals to achieve success.
First continue to get the word out, be the voice for the people who may not have their own anymore. With the MADD organization there goal is to “To aid the victims of crimes performed by individuals driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, to aid the families of such victims and to increase public awareness of the problem of drinking and drugged driving (MADD. org). ” With this organization they have saved nearly 300,000 lives by doing the work they do; by having MADD in all 50 states, 1,200 victims’ advocates in 48 states and 20 volunteer hotlines that help people 24/7 ( MADD. rg). These programs don’t always get money from the government, they often have to raise money, and they are often non-profit organizations, but without them victims may have no other resources. Plan for the future. Having goals to help people, to help the victims and even the families of crimes like drunk driving or sexual assault needs follow through. They need someone to say “OK let’s get together and make a plan, let’s get as many drunk drivers off the road as we can”.
It takes a leader to get groups going, to make a difference in so many people’s lives, and it shouldn’t take a tragedy to get people to do something about it. Get as much support as you can. Being a victim doesn’t just happen, these organizations don’t just happen and the Victims Movement can’t thrive on its own. These things need support; they need support from communities, the need support from society and they need support from the government.
There are times when we need laws, laws to prevent people from being able to commit the same crime unpunished and able to hurt other people. Law enforcement agencies should be involved as much as possible too within their own communities, providing assistance programs and advocates to support victims or all involved that have their lives forever changed. These are things that can help make the changes we need, the changes we need to continue righting the wrongs and to forever make a difference in the lives of so many people.
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