Poor Economy Contributing to Increase in Domestic Violence

A national survey of law enforcement agencies has found that the sluggish economy has contributed to an increase in domestic violence.

USAToday is reporting that the survey, which is part of an ongoing examination of how economic conditions are affecting law enforcement, was conducted by the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF). The latest survey found that 56 percent of the 700 responding agencies

reported in 2011 that the poor economy is driving up domestic violence rates. This percentage reflects a marked increase from the year before when only 40 percent of agencies reported the problem.

Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Washington-based PERF told USA Today that police have been expressing concern about rising domestic violence rates for at least the past two years.

“You are dealing with households in which people have lost jobs or are in fear of losing their jobs,” Wexler said. “That is an added stress that can push people to the breaking point.”

To put the numbers in perspective, police in Camden, New Jersey reported that they responded to 9,100 “domestic incidents” in 2011, which is up from 7,500 such calls in 2010. Camden Police Chief Scott Thomson told USA Today it was “impossible” to separate the economy from the domestic turmoil in the city where unemployment is 19 percent. 

“When stresses in the home increase because of unemployment and other hardships, domestic violence increases,” Thomson said. “We see it on the street.”

The PERF findings corroborated an earlier report by the National Domestic Violence Hotline whose president, Katie Ray-Jones, said financial stress was a factor in “intensifying and escalating” reported abuse.

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