Title

Perceptions of Intimate Partner Violence: A Comparative Study of Criminal Justice Versus Non-Criminal Justice Students

Date of Award

2006

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Criminal Justice

First Advisor

Donald Cabana

Advisor Department

Criminal Justice

Abstract

The researcher designed a survey instrument to examine student perceptions of intimate partner violence. This was an attempt to examine pre-employment perceptions held by criminal justice and non-criminal justice majors. Previous literature suggests that there were differences in the perceptions held by criminal justice and social professionals. The researcher wanted to determine whether or not differences in perceptions would exist at the educational level as well. Previous literature also suggests that there would be a difference in perceptions based upon the respondent's gender, as well as the gender and sexual orientation of the victim and offender. The researcher questioned whether students who had taken courses covering the dynamics of intimate partner violence would differ in their perceptions from students who had not taken such courses. The researcher developed six importance scales based upon various victim/offender relationships to help assess student perceptions of intimate partner violence. The researcher also asked students to determine an appropriate sanction for several hypothetical situations. The survey instrument was administered to 1051 college students within the state of Mississippi during the spring semester of 2006. The results indicate that there is a statistically significant difference in perceptions of intimate partner violence based upon a student's (1) major, (2) gender, and (3) whether the student was currently or had been previously enrolled in a course that covered the dynamics of domestic violence. Non-criminal justice majors scored higher on all of the importance scales than criminal justice majors. Females scored consistently higher on the importance scales than men. Students who were either currently or had been previously enrolled in a course that covered the dynamics of domestic violence scored consistently higher on the importance scales than those students who had not. Results also indicate that there were statistically significant relationships between the sanctions that a student deemed appropriate for defendants and the student's (1) major, (2) gender, and (3) whether the student was currently or had been previously enrolled in a course that covered the dynamics of domestic violence. Criminal justice students were more likely than non-criminal justice majors to favor the dismissal of charges in the situation where the husband backhanded his wife. Male students were more likely to favor jail time for the female defendant who slapped her boyfriend in view of a police officer where females were more likely to favor counseling. Students who had not been previously enrolled in a course that addressed the dynamics of domestic violence were more inclined to favor jail time for the defendant who back handed his wife.