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Title:Police training in sexual assault response: Comparison of approaches
Author(s):Lonsway, Kimberly Ann
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Fitzgerald, Louise F.
Department / Program:Psychology, Social
Women's Studies
Education, Adult and Continuing
Sociology, Criminology and Penology
Discipline:Psychology, Social
Women's Studies
Education, Adult and Continuing
Sociology, Criminology and Penology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Psychology, Social
Women's Studies
Education, Adult and Continuing
Sociology, Criminology and Penology
Abstract:The literature abounds with criticism of negative police attitudes and behavior toward sexual assault victims, and a number of authors have responded with calls for improved training in this area. Unfortunately, very few such programs are described in the literature and almost none are systematically evaluated, so it remains difficult to evaluate their effectiveness. The present study addresses this neglect by examining three classes of police recruits: (1) a baseline class received the standard training protocol currently administered at the police academy (baseline condition); (2) one experimental group received specialized training in sexual assault response for four hours at an evening workshop (workshop condition); and (3) a second experimental group received the same four hours of training, but material was integrated into the general police training curriculum (integrated condition). Quantitative analysis revealed that the experimental training programs were no more likely than the baseline curriculum to produce change in sexual assault knowledge, rape myth acceptance, or judgments in a simulated sexual assault interview. Yet the roleplayers who portrayed rape victims in these simulated interviews reported that recruits in the integrated condition outperformed others with respect to interviewing content and style. In addition, thematic coding found no differences between treatment conditions in the behavioral intentions or subjective norms for sexual assault interviews. Yet verbal performance in the simulated interviews exhibited a number of class differences; most importantly, officers in the workshop condition were more likely than others to address the victim's physical and emotional welfare, the suspect's responsibility, and the information and options for police investigation. Clearly, specific training is needed to prepare officers for competent performance in sexual assault interviews, and a comprehensive but isolated training unit appears more effective for recruits whose conceptualization of sexual assault is not yet integrated into a larger understanding of law enforcement. Ultimately, the goal of such training is to ensure that rape victims receive the sensitive response they deserve from the criminal justice system.
Issue Date:1996
Rights Information:Copyright 1996 Lonsway, Kimberly Ann
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9712361
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9712361

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