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Police officers’ judgements of blame in family violence: The impact of gender and alcohol

Abstract

This study investigated police officers‘ judgements of blame to both victims and assailants of family violence. Furthermore, the impact of these judgements on the reported likelihood of charging the assailants with assault was examined. The sample was selected from operational police officers of the Queensland Police Service. The sample included 51 male officers and 46 female officers. Ethnicity was not examined. However; 1.3% of police oficers identify as Indigenous and 5.8% of officers come from non-English speaking backgrounds. The subjects were presented with one of eight case vignettes of assault. In these vignettes two factors were varied, the victim gender (male and female), and alcohol consumption of the victim and assailant (both the assailant and the victim were drunk, neither were drunk, the assailant was sober and the victim drunk, and the assailant was drunk and the victim sober). A third independent variable was included, gender of the police officer Male and female police officers showed no differences in judgement of blame and reported likelihood of charging. However; the level of blame attributed to both the assailant and the victim vaned with the victim gender and the alcohol consumption of the disputants. Male victims were more likely to be blamed than female victims. Drunk victims were blamed more than sober victims. Furthermore,a relationship was found between the level of blame allocated to the victim and the reported likelihood of charging the assailant. These results indicate that police officers hold gender stereotypes that influence the way they respond to family violence.

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Stewart, A., Maddren, K. Police officers’ judgements of blame in family violence: The impact of gender and alcohol. Sex Roles 37, 921 (1997). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02936347

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02936347

Keywords

  • Domestic Violence
  • Police Officer
  • Family Violence
  • Female Victim
  • Victim Blame