Victimology in Criminology

ARD Science Talk with Michael Kilchling

February 19, 2024

In Science Talk broadcast by Germany’s public service channels ARD and SWR2, senior researcher Michael Kilchling explains what victimology is – a branch of crime research that has received scant attention in the media to date.

When crimes are committed, we tend to focus on the criminals involved, not the victims. For years, German criminal law defined the term victim very technically, namely as “the injured party”. The personal component was ignored. In recent decades, however, research on victims – victimology – has emerged as a separate branch of criminology. The Max Planck Institute in Freiburg has been instrumental in advancing this field of study.

The range of topics covered by victim research is very diverse. Victimology encompasses criminological, legal, and psychological aspects. The following always applies: each victim is an individual with individual needs. What victims have in common, however, is that when they fall victim to a crime, they experience a loss of control. For them, the most important thing after they have become victims of a criminal offense is to regain control of their lives. The police and the justice system can help ensure that traumatization does not continue after the crime – in other words, that no secondary victimization occurs. Victims are entitled to legal and psychological support from a victim advocate and to psychological support during the trial. “We are in a good position here in Germany,” confirms Michael Kilchling.

Watch the full talk with Michael Kilchling (in German): ARD Mediathek.

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