Fear Of Crime(Scelerophobia): Causes, Symptoms, Treatments

Fear of crime – Scelerophobia. It is the fear of thieves, evil men, or corruption. The word Scelerophobia derives from Latin, “scelero,” which means “evil or crime,” and “phobos,” which means “deep fear or fear.”

Fear of crime is a prevalent problem in modern society. The level or extent of fear of corruption depends on various factors such as age, gender, past experiences, etc. Other factors, such as the neighborhood where one lives, ethnic origin, etc., can also influence fear.

To some extent, fear of crime is customary and essential for safety and well-being. However, in extreme heterophobia, many “normal” things become difficult for the suffering individual. For example, one can do everything possible to prevent crime (locking the house or constantly checking and rechecking the locks to the point that it becomes an obsession). Many refuse to leave their home when it gets dark or travel to lonely places to fear being attacked or robbed. Their phobia leads to constant fatigue, as it makes them believe that they need to be vigilant all the time.

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Causes of fear of crime

As mentioned above, many factors are responsible for the fear of crime.

Gender is the most important predictor of crime. Women fear crime more than men due to the greater possibility of sexual assault. Other factors such as less coping skills, irrationality, etc., are also attributed to higher levels of acrophobia in women.

Older people are also known to suffer from acrophobia more than younger people. This may be due to an increased number of robberies or “break” incidents. (Research has shown that older people are not the specific target of crime, but their level of acrophobia often exceeds their risk of victimization.)

The transfer of trauma that occurs when watching a friend or loved one become the victim of a crime can also instigate fear to such an extent that one becomes obsessed with closing windows and doors, closing blinds and curtains, and putting away valuable items.

The crimes can be of different types: theft of motor or domestic vehicles, sexual assault, robbery, vandalism, breaking, etc. Each of these crimes instills different levels of fear in the victims. For example, theft of any kind involves:

  • Sharp weapons.
  • Assault.
  • Loss or damage of property/money.
  • Doing this by a stranger.

The crime also involves police reports, court cases, etc., viewed negatively.

Geographical location can also cause fear of crime, as populations in cities are more likely to suffer from higher crime rates than those in rural areas.

Similarly, ethnicity tends to influence the level of fear: Research has shown that Asians are the most fearful, followed by “black groups,” followed by white groups.

Media reports and news about crimes such as teenage murder, rape of women, vandalism of new homes, etc., increase the level of fear of crime. This is most true for anxious or very nervous people who already suffer from anxiety disorders.

Sclerophobia symptoms

People with scelerophobia often display avoidance and protective behaviors, such as refusing to go out at night. Many tend to get protective measures like watchdogs, electric fences, security systems with alarms, or join self-defense classes and other crime watch programs in the neighborhood. Some tend to go overboard and obsess over checking and rechecking their locks.

Physical symptoms of Scelerophobia include having a complete panic attack at the thought of the crime or being attacked. Crying and shaking are other signs of scelerophobia. These people are constantly vigilant and never relax, which can be an exhausting experience for them.

Overcome fear of crime

Often, people afraid of crime expect the government and the police to help them. However, these agencies may not always be in a position to stop or prevent crime. In such cases, the phobic may resort to vandalism or take matters into their own hands.

Therefore, the government must take all necessary steps to educate people about crime and help them find ways to protect their community while reducing their fears.

The fear of crime is both a social and individual responsibility. Those clinically diagnosed as heterophobic should resort to clinical evaluation and psychotherapy. Gradual or systematic desensitization, counter-conditioning, hypnotism, and NLP or neurolinguistic programming therapies help overcome this fear.

Reading statistics and educating yourself about actual crime incidents in your residential area can also be beneficial in overcoming Scelerophobia.

Georgia Tarrant
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Hello, how are you? My name is Georgia Tarrant, and I am a clinical psychologist. In everyday life, professional obligations seem to predominate over our personal life. It's as if work takes up more and more of the time we'd love to devote to our love life, our family, or even a moment of leisure.