Domestic violence is, unfortunately, no stranger to the United States. Some even stress that instances of abuse in the home go severely underreported. In Pennsylvania, the legal system categorizes domestic violence into the same classifications of assault and battery, and the state requires police to arrest any suspect reported for such violence in the household.
Although domestic violence charges can seem minor in some cases, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence reports an overwhelming number of domestic violence incidents each year. For example, between June 2006 and July 2007, 91,545 victims of domestic violence received services in Pennsylvania's 62 relief programs. The number of relieved victims is certainly uplifting, but the NCADV warns that recent state funding cuts have caused impending stress on domestic violence service providers' already strained budgets. In addition, Pennsylvania's vast rural population is largely unaware regarding domestic violence cases in the area -- such blindness to the issue can further victims' fear and feelings of isolation.
Pennsylvania court systems have long dealt with domestic violence cases, but a recent report from ABC 27 News shows that a house bill seeks to place more emphasis on proactive prevention than reactive resolutions. This bill would allow police officers to receive more training on responding to domestic violence situations, and would potentially reduce the number of domestic violence-related homicides. Police officers would also be required to train through a Lethality Assessment Program, wherein officers would learn to better determine the likelihood that a domestic violence incident could ultimately lead to serious injury or death. Reflecting a similar program already under way in Maryland that helped reduced domestic violence crime rates in the state by 25 percent in recent years, Pennsylvania's program would ideally encourage prevention, awareness and resolvement in issues otherwise considered too complex to solve.