Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Sociology (MA)

Degree Level



Sociology and Criminal Justice


Mindy Bradley-Engen

Committee Member

Shauna Morimoto

Second Committee Member

Anna Zajicek

Third Committee Member

Jerry Hollingsworth


Social sciences, Child abuse, Child maltreatment, Child welfare agencies, Gender, Neglect, Physical abuse


Previous research on child abuse and neglect suggests that there may be gendered relationships between child victims and case outcomes. Specifically, although agency practices may generally regard most male and female children as equally vulnerable, agency attributions regarding the culpability, need, and suitability of parents may be highly differentiated based on gender. Explanations for this pattern may lie in the cultural ideologies and organizational beliefs that distinguish between the perceived rights, responsibilities, and relative importance of mothering and fathering roles. That is, one function of Social service agencies is to uphold Social constructions of parenting and promote our larger cultural portrayals as to how a mother or father "should" behave and view their roles as parents. These gendered practices in child abuse and neglect cases can have serious consequences, particularly in circumstances where an agency interacts with both parents or must make decisions between parents, such as in determinations of appropriate custodial placement of children.

The current project investigates the role of gender, perpetrator responsibility, and service-related outcomes. Using data collected by the National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS) for the year 2006, we examine forms of interventions, and case outcomes based on types of maltreatment and the gender of the abuser. In doing so, I empirically explore many questions regarding the possible gendered practices associated with child abuse and neglect investigation decision-making, including: 1) Under what individual and perpetrator circumstances are women or men more likely to be successful in the retention of their children?, and 2) How do factors such as type of abuse or neglect and perpetrator interact to affect placement preferences and services provided to fathers versus mothers?