A Review of Research on Criminal Victimization and First Nations, Métis and Inuit Peoples 1990 to 2001

Part II: Research Gaps, Framework and Future Agenda (continued)

3. A Summary of Existing Research on Aboriginal Victimization

There exists a sizable body of literature involving Aboriginal victimization. National studies are beginning to include Aboriginal identity as a factor in their analysis. These national studies, however, fail to examine in any significant degree Aboriginal victimization issues beyond a few general statistics concerning the high rate of victimization of Aboriginal peoples by violence.

There are also a number of specific community-based studies that have examined the prevalence of victimization among Aboriginal women. Many of these studies are qualitative in nature with small populations being studied. In addition, there have been some attempts to explain the reasons for such disproportionately high rates of spousal violence as well. These explanations flow logically from various theories of Aboriginal colonization and the negative impacts of colonization on Aboriginal peoples. However, these explanations have yet to be statistically evaluated in any comprehensive manner.

There are also some studies that have examined child abuse and the "cycle of violence" that exposure to childhood victimization can cause. The data that examines the degree to which such behaviour is learned and its impacts, however, remains inconsistent and controversial. There are some good examples of participatory research dealing with Aboriginal sex trade involvement that includes important insights about child victimization. Such a study would be a good model to begin to look at Aboriginal youth victimization generally.

There has been some excellent research conducted which examines the issue of Aboriginal victimization in urban centres. This research is insightful and informative. However, further research comparing the differences between rural Aboriginal communities and urban communities would be beneficial.

There is also some work that is now beginning to examine the impact of alternatives to mainstream justice processes in Aboriginal communities and whether they are serving the needs of victims fairly and appropriately. There is division within the existing literature regarding the cultural validity of such alternatives and whether they are positive developments for overall community well-being. There is some evaluative work that has been done of Aboriginal alternatives and healing approaches (Lane et al., 2002). For example, the Hollow Water study showed that there was a positive improvement on community well-being (Native Counselling Services of Alberta, 2001). However, more evaluative research is needed in this area particularly from the perspective of victims.

The research in this area tends to be piece-meal and somewhat scattered. There is no overall theme that provides a common thread for assessing the findings of disparate research studies. There is really no visible efforts or attempts evident that expands upon or builds from existing knowledge. It is difficult, if impossible, with much of the existing research to make important comparisons within the Aboriginal community or between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal societies.

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