Victimization of the Homeless: Public Perceptions, Public Policies, and Implications for Social Work Practice
Homeless individuals are particularly vulnerable to victimization, sometimes resulting in fatalities. Theories of victimization prove useful to understanding the risks inherent in being homeless as well as the public’s perception of the homeless population. Problematically, public policy that criminalizes this population may exacerbate the victimization of this group. Municipalities have turned to law enforcement and the criminal justice system to respond to people living in public spaces. Programs that ensure adequate income, affordable housing, and supportive services to prevent homelessness and address the needs of those who are homeless are essential. In addition, increased law enforcement training and the implementation of legislation to include homeless persons as a protected class in hate crime statutes is needed. In effect, these interventions focus on reducing the risks associated with being homelessness—in turn reducing the risk of their further victimization. Social workers are both uniquely positioned and ethically obligated to support these efforts and contribute to the social inclusion of people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.
Criminology Commons, Social Control, Law, Crime, and Deviance Commons, Social Work Commons, Urban Studies and Planning Commons