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Family Harmony or Individual Protection? : Public Recommendations About How Police Can Handle Domestic Violence Situations
- STALANS, LORETTA J.
- TheAmerican behavioral scientist 1996 v.39 no.4 pp. 433-448
- adults, courts, family violence, marriage counseling, police, Georgia
- Domestic violence situations create tough choices between protecting an individual's safety and fostering family harmony and autonomy. Using a sample of 157 adult residents of Georgia, this study examines how the public wants the police and court to handle domestic violence situations. Respondents read a detailed story about a domestic violence situation and then recommended how the police and court should handle the situation. The majority of respondents wanted the police and the courts to provide referrals to marriage counseling; only 26% of the respondents recommended arrest when the wife had moderately severe injuries. Respondents based their preference for arrest or informal methods on their fairness and on their effectiveness at reducing conflict. These findings suggest that the public may still place more importance on rehabilitative justice than on retributive justice. Moreover, the public recognizes the victim's need for protection but still places much importance on family autonomy and harmony. Practical implications and future research directions are discussed.