Future Law Enforcement Officers and Social Workers: Perceptions of Domestic Violence

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Criminal Justice


This study compares perceptions of domestic violence for college students planning to work in law enforcement with students aspiring to careers in social work and non-law-enforcement criminal justice (N = 491). The study involves students attending four public universities across one Southern state who completed a survey (spring of 2006) measuring whether various scenarios were (1) related to domestic violence, and (2) worthy of being reported to law enforcement. Findings indicate that all student groups (law enforcement, non-law-enforcement criminal justice, and social work) tended to identify the various scenarios as domestic violence (and worthy of being reported) regardless of the person's sexual orientation, violence severity, and offender's or victim's gender. However, law enforcement students are less sensitive to domestic violence when compared with social work and non-law enforcement criminal justice students. Findings reveal that (1) graduate students, (2) female students, and (3) White students (compared with African American students in general) attending majority White universities were more likely to identify domestic violence and its worthiness of being reported. The data in this study indicate that criminal justice programs produce graduates who are reasonably sensitive toward the importance of appropriate domestic violence response but could still improve using the techniques employed within social work programs.

Publication Title

Journal of Interpersonal Violence





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