Responding to Domestic Violence
Just recently, your police officers responded to yet another felony domestic violence assault in Parsons. Two children were traumatized as was the victim in this unsafe relationship.
Domestic violence (both misdemeanor and felony incidents) account for a significant percentage of crime and violent crime in Parsons. Nothing new - that's historical. In 2020, the Parsons Police responded to a total of 176 domestic violence cases - one every 49 hours and 46 minutes.
Almost 1/3 of the City of Parsons Violent Crime derives from Felony Domestic Violence cases.
Domestic violence is not a private matter or a family problem; it is a crime that demands both a law enforcement and a community response. This pervasive problem cuts across cultural, ethnic, religious, and economic boundaries, and its consequences extend well beyond the significant harms inflicted directly upon battered women by their abusers.
Domestic violence also traumatizes the children who witness the violence in what should be their safest haven their own homes. These children are also frequently abused and are at higher risk for substance abuse, school failure, emotional and physical health problems, and particularly for boys' aggressive behavior that can escalate to violence. To further add to this tragedy, the abused partner is often unable to pay sufficient attention to the children's needs due to her own deteriorating physical and emotional health, substance abuse and/or lack of social and financial resources.
Helping women escape from violent partners substantially reduces the risk that they will continue to harm their children. Domestic violence laws have long presented such challenges to law enforcement agencies and their officers. The highly emotional, often violent atmosphere surrounding these situations, which often tear families apart, also place a heavy burden on the officers who respond to these disturbances.
To add to this burden, victims frequently hesitate to prosecute the assailant or seek shelter, because many still believe that domestic violence should be resolved by family members. Unfortunately, some citizens have this belief. For instance, the way society often views domestic violence is evident in a television commercial in which a couple preparing for bed overhears a violent argument coming from the apartment next door. The couple look at each other, look at the telephone, look back at each other and then turn the light off. The announcer says, "If their music was too loud, they would call the police."
While mandatory arrest laws help give the police a basic tool to remove an offender by arrest. The arrest is only a small piece of the pie. Parsons needs to bake a better pie with the community taking its responsibility seriously.
A multi-faceted approach is required from all the community entities that have a stake in the outcome.
Research confirms that many wife abusers are also child abusers, and the cycle is often repeated generation after generation. A recent study revealed that abused children are 38 percent more likely to commit violent crimes and be arrested as juveniles than non-abused children, because they learn most of their conflict resolution skills at home.
I have asked our Public Safety Advisory Board to address ways of bringing together community resources to include schools, public health, civic and fraternal organizations, the faith-based community and others to address domestic violence in Parsons. I hope that we can build a process that will provide direction to improve the way our community can intervene on behalf of children and other victims of domestic violence.