(photo by Megan Bean / © Mississippi State University)

I am a sociologist who does research in the areas of gender and crime. Specifically, I focus on the social construction of victimization, fear of crime among women, and gendered depictions of victims and offenders through the media. I have published articles most recently at Deviant Behavior, Violence against Women, the International Review of Victimology, and the Journal of Ethnicity in Criminal Justice. Additionally, I am a coauthor on the book Fear of Crime in the United States: Causes, Consequences, and Contradictions (Carolina Academic Press) and the author of the forthcoming book (see below for details!), Teaching Fear: How we Learn To Fear Crime and Why it Matters (Temple University Press). I have been at Mississippi State University since 2005 and currently serve as the Department Head in the Sociology Department.

Teaching Fear: How We Learn To Fear Crime And Why It Matters

Temple University Press, January 6, 2023

“Where do lessons of “stranger danger” and safety come from—and do they apply differently for women? A gender-fear paradox shows that although women are less likely to be victims of most crimes (sexual assault aside), their fear of crime is greater. Moreover, girls and women—especially White women—are taught to fear the wrong things and given impossible tools to prevent victimization. In Teaching Fear, Nicole Rader zooms in on the social learning process, tracing the ways that families, schools, and the media have become obsessed with crime myths, especially regarding girls and women.

Based on in-depth research and family studies, Rader reveals the dubious and dangerous origins of many of the most prominent safety guidelines that teach young girls to be more afraid of crime. These guidelines carry over to adulthood, influencing women’s behaviors and the way they order their worlds, with dangerous consequences. As women teach their learned behavior and conditioned fear to others, gendered crime myths are recirculated from generation to generation, making them a staple in our society.

Teaching Fear includes suggestions for taking precautionary measures and crime prevention strategies. Rader also provides guidance for instilling safety values and demonstrating how we can “teach fear better” to break this cycle and truly create greater security.”

Reviews of Teaching Fear

“Can a book about gendered fear of crime be an enjoyable read? If the book is Teaching Fear , the answer is yes. Written in a highly accessible style but grounded firmly in empirical research, Teaching Fear provides a much-needed debunking of popular gendered and racialized crime myths and offers strategies for finally ending the intergenerational transmission of these false and harmful beliefs.”

Claire Renzetti, Judi Conway Patton Endowed Chair and Professor of Sociology at the University of Kentucky, and author of Feminist Criminology

Rader (sociology, Mississippi State Univ.; Fear of Crime in the United States) tackles the connection between fearful fictions about crime in the U.S. that she believes are designed to keep women, in particular, docile and afraid, and the real issues that greatly affect not just women but all Americans. The author opens with an overview of the gendered myths surrounding crime that takes into account intersectionality and stereotypes in narratives. Rader explores how these stories are inculcated in U.S. society and the consequences that result when these often racist and/or gendered myths are internalized. There’s a section dedicated to Gen Z readers and their perceptions of myths and realities. The book also devotes the three final three sections to action steps and ideas about what society and individuals can do to better prepare and protect people from crime by focusing on facts, not fetishized versions of crimes. VERDICT Recommended for educators, parents, and readers interested in gender identity, politics, and law.—

Emily Bowles, Library Journal

“In Teaching Fear , Nicole Rader brings together what we know about contemporary fears of violence and victimization. She shows how our fears are created, why they take the forms they do, how they shape the lives of children and adults, and how we can approach our fears in more constructive ways.”