Society for Social Work and Research

Sixteenth Annual Conference Research That Makes A Difference: Advancing Practice and Shaping Public Policy
11-15 January 2012 I Grand Hyatt Washington I Washington, DC

16653 Assessing the Impact of Primary Perpetrator Gender In Substantiated CPS Child Sexual Assault Cases: A Secondary Data Analysis of the NCANDS Child File, FFY 2009

Saturday, January 14, 2012: 5:00 PM
Constitution C (Grand Hyatt Washington)
* noted as presenting author
David Axlyn McLeod, MSW, PhD Student, Adjunct Professor, Research Assistant, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA
Purpose: Research suggests female child sex offenders perpetrate up to 20% of child sexual assaults in the United States, with data suggesting up to 63% of female, and as many as 27% of male, child sexual abuse survivors report having been victimized by a female. Studies suggest females (who account for up to 20% of child sexual offenses, but only 1% of those imprisoned) could be moving through our child protective and legal systems differently than males. An examination of national child welfare trends centered on perpetrator gender may provide additional insight into this issue. The primary aim of this study is to investigate the effect of gender on the way primary perpetrators of child sexual abuse (CSA) are identified, assessed, assisted, and ultimately move from the child welfare system to the legal system.

Methods: This study is a secondary data analysis of the National Child Abuse and Neglect Data System (NCANDS) Child File, FFY 2009, with over 3.5 million reported records from 50 states. The data was filtered to include only cases involving a substantiated primary “maltreatment type” of sexual abuse (N>70k), then split by gender of primary perpetrator (DV) and 1000 cases from each gender were randomly selected and then recombined for a final analytic sample (N=2000). Descriptive statistics, group comparisons, and logistic regression models based on empirically identified constructs were analyzed using SPSS Statistics 19.

Results: Approximately one third of all data showed statistically significant differences based on gender. For instance, female perpetrators were more likely to offend on children who were prior abuse victims (p<.000), who were physically disabled (p=.004) or who were emotionally disturbed (p=.01). The findings support previous research in describing female offenders as less discriminating about the age, or sex, of their victims. Men were more likely than women to be reported to CPS by criminal justice system referral sources (30% vs. 22%); conversely, women were nearly 4 times more likely to be reported to CPS by friends or neighbors and more than twice as likely to be turned in by other family members or anonymous sources (OR = 2:1; OR = 2.5:1). Logistic regression models were conducted based on specific service utilization patterns; for example, perpetrator gender was able to be predicted at approximately a 2:1 ratio based only on whether or not Mental Health or Counseling Services were provided.

Implications: The data appear to offer an interesting appraisal of our national CPS system and the ways gender affects the investigation, assessment, and services offered to families, victims, and perpetrators associated with substantiated reports of CSA. Perhaps most importantly, however, the findings give direction for further research. Specifically, the data raise questions about the role of gender in the pathways through which decisions are made to provide services to children, and families, when CSA is substantiated.