Multiple perspectives on the police response to children present at a domestic violence incident: an Irish case study
Citation:Ruth Elliffe, 'Multiple perspectives on the police response to children present at a domestic violence incident: an Irish case study', University of Dublin, Trinity College Dublin, School of Social Work and Social Policy, 2019
RuthElliffe_PhDThesis2019mirror_margins(1).pdf (PhD thesis, examined and approved) 8.985Mb
The expanding recognition of the negative impact that exposure to domestic violence can have on children, has led to a focus on the response of professionals, in particular the police, who have been identified as first responders to many children living with domestic violence. Findings in the literature suggest that the police are well placed to offer an initial professional response to the safeguarding of children in this context, however little is known about this “key moment” of professional response (Featherstone & Peckover, 2007; Richardson-Foster, Stanley, Miller, & Thomson, 2012). Research shows that children’s level of involvement is not indicative to the response by police officers who continue to report some reluctance in engaging directly with children at a domestic violence scene (D Finkelhor & Turner, 2015; HMIC, 2015b; Øverlien & Aas, 2016; Richardson-Foster et al., 2012; Swerin, Growette Bostaph, King, & Kirkland Gillespie, 2018). This thesis sought to explore the child’s experience of the police response to domestic violence in the context of a police call-out, by drawing on multiple perspectives including children and adult actors, in order to provide a richer understanding of the phenomenon. This was achieved by a qualitative case study methodology that used the individual and focus group interview as the main source of data collection involving a total of 60 participants, including children, mothers, police and a range of Health and Social Care practitioners. Findings support the need for a more direct response by police to children at a domestic violence incident in order for them to be recognised as victim in their own right. An ecological perspective reveals how the police response for the child is situated within a complex interplay of systems that operate within the child’s environment. The messages that children are given about the police role within their communities, through their interactions with peers and the police themselves, as well as what they learn about them from within the home, can be seen as important in understanding how the child living with domestic violence perceives police involvement. A recognition of children as active agents more aligned to a children’s rights discourse and new sociological understandings of childhood are yet to be fully realised in practice responses by police. The dominant discourse that not speaking to children about sensitive adult issues will protect the innocence of childhood is no longer viable and calls for a reconceptualising of children as involved actor and a response that recognises children in this role.
Author: Elliffe, Ruth
Type of material:Thesis
Availability:Full text available