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Children and Domestic Violence: Challenges for Prosecutors

NCJ Number
Date Published
October 2000
111 pages
This study investigates the challenges facing prosecutors when children are exposed to domestic violence.
The study addressed the challenges facing prosecutors when children are exposed to domestic violence; how new laws, now effective in a small number of States, are affecting practice; and what prosecutors can do to help battered women and their children. The study used data from a national telephone survey of prosecutors and intensive field research at sites in Texas, Georgia, Oregon, Utah, and California. The survey found that prosecutors are becoming more aware of the risks to children growing up in violent homes. Many are taking steps to hold offenders accountable for the risks to children by arguing for harsher sentences and charging offenders with child endangerment. New laws that identify children as victims allow children access to crime victim compensation funds, enable the courts to issue protective orders on the children's behalf and signal a need to file a report with the child protection agency, even in the absence of laws naming domestic violence as a condition of mandatory reporting. The study suggests ways prosecutors can help battered women and their children, including: (1) instituting protocols within prosecutors' offices to facilitate information sharing; (2) identifying avenues for earlier intervention; (3) using every means to enforce no-contact orders and probationary sentences; (4) promoting increased attention to services for battered women; and (5) advocating for needed change, whether legislative, fiscal or programmatic. Notes, tables, appendixes

Date Published: October 1, 2000