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Policing juveniles in rural communities: Determinants of officer authoritative and supportive behavior

Sherry Lynn Skaggs (Department of Sociology, Criminology, and Anthropology, University of Central Arkansas, Conway, Arkansas, USA)
Ivan Y. Sun (Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice, University of Delaware, Newark, Delaware, USA)

Policing: An International Journal

ISSN: 1363-951X

Article publication date: 15 May 2017




The purpose of this paper is to explore factors that shape police behavior in juvenile interactions occurring in rural communities.


Using data collected in rural Kentucky through a factorial survey instrument, this study assessed the effects of situational, officer, organizational and community variables on officers’ authoritative and supportive behavior toward juveniles.


Officer background characteristics, such as race, sex, education, and having children, and occupational attitudes, such as rehabilitation and dispositional beliefs, were significantly related to both authoritative and supportive behavior. While organizational variables affected officer supportive actions, they were weakly linked to authoritative behavior. Neighborhood social disorganization was ineffective in predicting both types of police behavior.


Although a considerable amount of research has been conducted in the past several decades to examine police behavior, a relatively small number of studies have empirically assessed factors that shape police behavior toward juveniles with an even smaller number assessing juvenile interactions in rural communities. This research provides a comprehensive theoretical explanation of police-juvenile encounters in rural communities which will allow for a more complete understanding of the factors that account for police attitudes and behavior in these interactions.



Lynn Skaggs, S. and Sun, I.Y. (2017), "Policing juveniles in rural communities: Determinants of officer authoritative and supportive behavior", Policing: An International Journal, Vol. 40 No. 2, pp. 244-264.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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