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Reporting sexual assaults in the United States: The influence of police-community racial tensions and mistrust

[Speaker] Henninger, Amy L:1
[Co-author] Iwasaki, Michiko:1
1:Loyola University Maryland (United States of America)

Sexual assault is highly prevalent (Breiding et al., 2014) and underreported in the U.S. (Truman & Langton, 2014). A victim's decision to report an assault may be impacted by negative expectations about the criminal justice system, trial process, or police response (Ménard, 2005; Spohn & Tellis, 2012). Police officers, who are often the first responders to sexual assault reports, have a strong influence on the victims' decisions to proceed further within the justice system (Spohn & Tellis, 2012). Therefore, trust between police and the public is highly important in the prosecution of sexual assaults. Relations between citizens and police have long been divisive (Culbertson, 2000), especially when racial differences exist (Taylor, Wyant, & Lockwood, 2015). This presentation addresses how racial tensions and mistrust toward the criminal justice system influences racial minorities to report sexual assaults. Implications for mental health service will be discussed.
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