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)
4. Identified Research Gaps
Based on the literature review, we identify several key research gaps. In this section we briefly identify these gaps, including some specific research questions that seem to logically flow from the identified gap. We then offer a Research Agenda in chart form that elaborates on the gaps by identifying methodological issues and potential specific research projects. Finally, we offer a few suggestions for projects that could be completed within a two–year time frame.
The following research gaps have been identified:
- More and more research examines each of the Aboriginal groups separately, however, research on First Nations seems to have been the predominate focus with little to no research on Inuit people and less on Métis people. Although there is a need to conduct further research on victimization in First Nations and even more of a need for Inuit communities, there is almost no Métis specific research or data on victimization within Métis communities. Research on victimization within the Métis community must be a priority to ensure some semblance of equity of research data between the various Aboriginal groups.
- The impact of colonization on the level of victimization experienced needs to be better understood. In particular, what effects does it have on cultural identity both on an individual and a community level? Knowledge gained from further research on these types of questions will help policy makers determine program priorities and direction.
- We agree with the recent literature review by ANAC and the RCMP (2001) that there is little quantitative data on victimization. There is more qualitative data that is valuable but it does not always meet statistical standards and have been criticized. What is needed is a comprehensive quantitative research examining Aboriginal community by Aboriginal community and compare rates of victimization with other factors such as socio–economic status and education level. There is a gap in the research regarding any studies that have a longitudinal component to them. How do Aboriginal peoples experience victimization over time? How do Aboriginal communities' rates of crime and victimization change? What factors enhance or exacerbate victimization? Longitudinal studies will help to answer these and other similar questions. A national comprehensive survey is needed which can address these and other important questions. It could help to tell us where, in real numbers, the majority of victimizations against Aboriginal peoples are taking place. Are there rural and urban communities that are more characteristic of the national norms or better? If so, why? What makes these communities healthier?
- There is a need to learn more about the perception that Aboriginal peoples (First Nations, Inuit and Métis) have about the appropriate processes for dealing with Aboriginal offenders. To what extent do Aboriginal people advocate punishment over healing? Is there a difference among Aboriginal groups? For example, Métis groups may be less inclined to advance healing approaches since Métis culture is a mixture of Indigenous and European cultures. What are the differences between the perceptions of men and women? Some of the qualitative research seems to suggest women are less inclined to be in favour of "healing" approaches especially in the area of family violence. There is also some debate as to the traditional nature of Aboriginal dispute resolution and whether a community's perception of Aboriginal healing as a traditional process is a factor in their acceptance and legitimacy.
- In terms of alternative justice processes, there is little research that evaluates their effectiveness and this is particularly so in terms of victimization. Do Aboriginal "healing" programs have a positive impact on reducing victimization? What impacts do alternative justice processes have on victim satisfaction? Is there an important difference between victim participation and the type of alternative process? How does the degree of victim participation in alternative community justice processes relate to the community's overall health and well-being? What safeguards are necessary to make alternative processes effective in addressing the needs of victims and offenders?
- It is unclear in the literature as to the different effects child abuse has on an individual's adult life and their future risk of victimization. Are there gender differences related to the impact of sexual abuse experienced as a child? Is child abuse a factor in youth and adult participation in the commercial sex trade? Are there differences if a child was physically abused as opposed to sexually abused? What is the impact of witnessing abuse in the home?
- Non-reporting of violence and crime is a serious concern in Aboriginal communities. What factors cause such high rates of non-reporting and are there important difference between Aboriginal communities, gender and age?
- There is a need to obtain more data about the rate of victimization of Aboriginal peoples with disabilities and some of the issues that are unique to this population. There is also growing concern about victimization of Aboriginal Elders. Currently, Durst, Bluechardt and Morin (2001) from the Social Policy Research Unit of the University of Regina are undertaking a project examining barriers to urban Aboriginal people with disabilities. It is a two-year study of Aboriginal people in Regina and Saskatoon which will collect data by surveys and interviews intended to clarify the problems faced by urban Aboriginal people and to identity gaps in services. It is unknown from the description of the project whether victimization issues are being explored. It would seem that a few targeted questions concerning victimization and access to victim services could be added to such a study. It would be unfortunate to miss an opportunity to "tag" on to such studies concerns regarding victimization. The Policy Centre for Victims Issues and the Research and Statistics Division of the Department of Justice would benefit from keeping abreast of research proposals dealing with Aboriginal issues in other departments and agencies and from getting involved at the design stage in order to put forth, where appropriate, questions concerning victimization.
- The literature has shown that Aboriginal communities are diverse and that not all have a serious problem with violence or other social dysfunction (Stenning & Roberts, 2001). More research needs to be done from the perspective of why some Aboriginal communities are relatively "victim free". There is very little research that has examined the issue from a "positive" perspective. Some research coming out of Australia has examined community crime and violence by looking at protective factors such as cultural resilience and personal and family control factors (Homel, Lincoln, & Heard, 1999). Fostering future research that takes this perspective may prove to be quite fruitful.
In understanding the relationship between "cultural health" and victimization, we would want to ask questions that get at the degree to which individuals within the community participate in cultural activities and the degree to which traditional activities and language are maintained. Such questions would have to be tailored to the specific Aboriginal group.
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