Date of Award

Spring 2007

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Sociology & Criminal Justice


Applied Sociology

Committee Director

Brian K. Payne

Committee Member

Randy R. Gainey

Committee Member

Bernadette J. Holmes

Call Number for Print

Special Collections LD4331.S62 B88 2007


Family violence is widespread and occurs everyday in the United States. The consequences of the various forms of family violence and physical discipline are both immediate and long lasting. As nearly every family is victimized by some type of family violence (Payne and Gainey 2005), it is important that all dynamics of family life be explored. Extending the focus of family violence risk factors to include neighborhood experiences allows for the potential development of different social policies. The purpose of this thesis was to analyze the effects of perceived neighborhood characteristics, in addition to a macro-level measure of crime, on the acceptance of using violence within the family. Data from the 2000 census, Norfolk Police department, and Norfolk Resident's Attitudes about Crime Survey were used to conduct univariate, bivariate, and multivariate analyses.

Bivariate tests revealed an association between approval for intimate partner violence and support for corporal punishment. Independent t-tests show differences in approval of intimate partner violence by level of neighborhood crime, a history of child maltreatment, and race. Support for corporal punishment varied by perceived social disorder, gender, and race. Attitudes toward family violence did not vary by level of perceived collective efficacy.

Multiple linear regression analysis show that support for corporal punishment and race were significant variables in predicting approval for intimate partner violence. Multivariate results also indicate that approval for intimate partner violence, gender, and race are salient factors in determining one's support for corporal punishment.

The results of this thesis indicate that individual level factors are important in determining attitudes toward family violence. Implications for policy, research, and theory are discussed.


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