Video Abstract

Video Abstract

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BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES:

Childhood exposure to domestic violence is common, but the overlap between threats and violence against children and weapon/firearm use has not been well studied. The objectives of this study were to: assess differences in respondent firearm access and the use of weapons in granted domestic violence protection orders (DVPOs) with and without minors (individuals <18 years of age); and characterize the frequency and characteristics of threats and acts of violence against minors.

METHODS:

We conducted a cross-sectional study of a random sample of granted DVPOs from 2014–2020 in King County, Washington. We examined the use of threats, violence, and weapons by restrained individuals (ie, respondents) by reviewing and abstracting information from DVPO case files.

RESULTS:

Respondent weapon use and firearm possession were more common among DVPOs including minors than DVPOs not including minors (weapon use: 38.2% and 33.0%; firearm possession: 23.1% and 19.1%, respectively). Almost 2 in 3 DVPOs including minors (1338 of 2029) involved threats or violence directed at a minor perpetrated by the DVPO respondent. About 1 in 3 (32.5%) DVPOs documented explicit threats, and 1 in 2 (48.9%) documented violence. Over two-thirds (680 of 993, 68.5%) of acts of violence directed at minors included a weapon.

CONCLUSIONS:

We found higher lethality risk (weapon use and respondent firearm access/ownership) among DVPOs including minors. Many minors experienced threats and acts of violence involving weapons and firearms by DVPO respondents. Evidence-based safety planning strategies and training of judicial officers are needed.

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