The Perfect Victim

Can you be the perfect victim for a criminal to target?

Karina Kay
3 min readJun 22, 2022


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“Victims” means persons who, individually or collectively, have suffered harm, including physical or mental injury, emotional suffering, economic loss or substantial impairment of their fundamental rights, through acts or omissions that are in violation of criminal laws operative within Member States, including those laws proscribing criminal abuse of power. — United Nations

Social Construction

Norwegian sociologist and criminologist Nils Christie (1986) argues that the label ‘victim’ is socially constructed, meaning it is created by the society, thus taking a different approach to that of the United Nations.

He believes that there is a stereotype of the ‘ideal victim’ favored by the media, public, and the criminal justice system. The ‘ideal victim’ is weak and innocent, for example, an old woman or a small child.

Positivist Victimology

Similarly, there is positivist victimology, which aims to find out why are some individuals more likely to be victims. It is focused on the idea of ‘victim proneness’, meaning there are certain characteristics that make certain individuals more vulnerable. For example, Hans Von Hentig (1948) argues that the ideal victims are more likely to be young, old, female, or ‘mentally abnormal’.

However, this view takes away the blame from the criminal and places it onto the victim, making them responsible for someone else’s action and blaming them for having certain features or being of certain age and gender.

Critical Victimology

On the other hand, there is critical victimology. It focuses on powerless social groups, such as women and the poor, to highlight the fact that the state has the power to label someone as a ‘victim’. Because the state has that power, it can label someone as a ‘victim’ but it is also able to deny that label.

For example, Tombs and Whyte argue that some people are victims of crime without even realizing it, such as corporate crime. However, when they are aware, their victimization is explained as the fault of the ‘accident-prone’ worker. Therefore, this highlights that the powerful…



Karina Kay

I am a Student and a Freelance Writer. I write about everything from self-improvement to sociological issues and debates. Contact me: