Using data from a study on police officers’ encounters with domestic violence victims and a study on children experiencing domestic violence, this article examines how officers decide whether and how to communicate with children in emergency situations, and how children experience these encounters. Officers’ views on such communication diverge; usually, communication is motivated by the need to determine next actions. Children recall little communication and describe officers as faceless, nameless and genderless. The authors argue for recognizing the preventive role of officers on emergency calls. Official policies and guidelines should formally acknowledge and clarify the importance of communication with children.
When called to a home where there is suspicion of domesic violence, police must take care to comunicate directly with any children in the home.