Words matter: A qualitative content analysis of campus crime alerts and considerations for best practices
Objective: An impediment to an informed discussion of the impact that campus crime alerts have on college campuses is the dearth of research on the topic. This study explores the composition of campus crime alerts and the ways they convey and (re)produce meanings concerning victimization, perpetration, responsibility, and consent. Methods: This study uses an qualitative content analysis of a sample of 3,702 campus crime alerts from 55 universities in the United States. Results: Three themes (Central Actor, Overgendering, and Gratuitous Content) emerge. When the victim is portrayed as the alert subject using a passive voice and the crime is framed within a gendered, editorialized narrative, the alert focus shifts to the victim’s rather than the perpetrator’s identity and behaviors. Conclusions: The wording of alerts may compromise the safety of the campus community by reinforcing misguided expectations for behavior and shaping misleading perceptions of risk; considerations for best practices are explored.
Journal of American College Health
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Jennifer K. Wesely, Elizabeth R. Brown & Curtis E. Phills (2022) Words matter: A qualitative content analysis of campus crime alerts and considerations for best practices, Journal of American College Health, 70:1, 49-57, DOI: 10.1080/07448481.2020.1719114