Resilience as a tool for crime prevention

Crime prevention, defined as "reducing the occurence of future criminal acts and reducing the harm caused by crime" (Björgo (2016)) is the responsibility of a variety of societal actors, going from the police to public agencies, school, voluntary organisation, parents and other actors in civil society. Following Wikström and Torstensson (1997), crime prevention refers to interventions that either lower individual crime propensity, or that influence the individual’s settings wherein their motivations for criminality arise. Given its similarities with protective factors, enhancing youngsters’ resilience might help to reduce social problems such as delinquency.

In line with Pawson and Tilley (1997), preventive measures depend on the context to reach their effects. An initiative may be effective for one individual in a particular situation, but not effective for another individual or in a different situation. The social crime prevention model consists of community and developmental prevention and is targeted at combatting breeding-grounds of criminality: it wants to prevent people from engaging into criminal activities by influencing those factors that push them into crime. Just as risk factors for criminality are to be found on multiple levels, social prevention will therefore also be necessary on the individual, group and societal level (Bjørgo, 2016). Depending of the urgency of the prevention, the target group may be primary (universal), secondary (selective) or tertiary (indicative).

Resilience trainings can be given as an individual or group-based training and then part of a social crime preventive intervention. Such trainings aim at strengthening individual resilience, believing in the theoretical mechanism that increased resilience will lower vulnerability to crime. To that end, resilience-trainings can often be categorised as universal (primary) prevention, or as selective (secondary) prevention when they are provided to risk groups.

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