Abuse Behind the Badge Intimate Partner Violence and Child Abuse in Police Families

Date of Award

Spring 2008

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Sociology & Criminal Justice


Applied Sociology

Committee Director

Dianne Carmody

Committee Member

Allison Chappell

Committee Member

Doris Edmonds

Call Number for Print

Special Collections LD4331.S62 V47 2008


This study analyzes the factors that may contribute to intimate partner violence and child abuse among police officers' families. Secondary data was obtained from the National Institute of Justice Data Resources Program, "Police Stress and Domestic Violence in Police Families in Baltimore, Maryland, 1997-1999u (Gershon 2000). Surveys were distributed to 1577 Baltimore Police officers. The sample size for this study was 886, which included only those officers who were married, had live-in partners, or were divorced/separated or widowed. From this sample, it was found that 7.9% of the Baltimore Police officers admitted to committing intimate partner violence and 8.4% admitted to committing child abuse.

The. following factors were used to examine patterns of intimate partner violence and child abuse: military background, gender, history of child abuse, witnessing intimate partner violence as a child, and occupational stress. Police officers who experienced child abuse and who witnessed intimate partner violence as children were more likely to report that they committed intimate partner violence as adults. It was also found that police officers who had a history of child abuse and suffered from high levels of occupational stress were more likely to report committing child abuse. Implications tor education, intervention and future research are discussed.


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