Publication Date


Date of Final Oral Examination (Defense)


Type of Culminating Activity


Degree Title

Masters of Arts in Criminal Justice


Criminal Justice

Major Advisor

Lisa G. Bostaph, Ph.D.


Laura King, Ph.D.


Lane Gillespie, Ph.D.


Police response to domestic violence incidents has continued to change and expand in the past several decades. Although domestic violence was originally considered a private matter not warranting police intervention, it now represents one of the most common calls for service received by police agencies. While police intervention in domestic violence incidents has improved substantially, response to children present remains an undeveloped area of research and practice. The present study examined 345 police reports from an agency in the Northwest in order to explore police response to domestic violence incidents and specifically their response to children. Similar to results from previous research, the present study found that children were present in 47% of domestic violence incidents. The majority (57.7%) of children present were under the age of six and at least one child was directly exposed to the altercation in 68.1% of incidents in which the level of exposure was indicated. Although Idaho utilizes an enhanced charge for domestic violence incidents that take place in the presence of a child, it was not always utilized in cases that met the criteria. Police response in the form of referral for services, contacting victim-witness coordinator, or other intervention was also rarely provided. Results from logistic regression analysis suggest that child presence is a statistically significant predictor of police response, follow-up, and arrest, although in differing directions. While child presence increased the probability of police response and follow-up, it decreased the likelihood of arrest. In fact, the most significant predictor of arrest was sex of the offender, with likelihood of arrest increasing by 221% when the offender was female. The study concludes that police response to children present at domestic violence incidents is minimal and additional training regarding resources available, influence of domestic violence on children, and methods for properly identifying the primary aggressor are warranted.

Thesis FINAL - 4-28-2015.docx (921 kB)
Final Submission