A survey involving severity of criminal penalization involving child abuse in all fifty states




Rayes, Alvin Allen,1950-

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Purpose: The objectives of this study were: (1) to contribute to the knowledge concerning the severity of criminal penalization involving child abuse throughout the United States; (2) to postulate and develop that the probabilities for receiving severe penalties for child abuse offenders are greater in certain regions of the United States than in others. Methods: The methods used in this study were: (1) the possible maximum penalty for each of the three child abuse offenses has been obtained from each state’s criminal code; (2) upon the completion of each state’s penalties for the offenses concerned, the measuring device of ranking, mean rank, and weighted rank is used for the purposes of assessing both state and regional penalty comparisons; (3) the Census Bureau has been used to depict the characteristics of population, ethnicity, mobility, education, and income throughout the United States, to illustrate possible diversity in characterizing child abuse legislation. Finding: 1. The study indicates that the maximum penalties embodied in the laws of the various states vary widely with reference to each of the behaviors under study. 2. For the offense of physical abuse, the East South Central Region maintained, overall, the greater severity of penalty, while the West North Central Region was the least severe. 3. Physical abuse, in correspondence with Census Bureau data, findings tend to illustrate only that there is a correlation of severity of penalty to that of educational attainment. 4. For the offense of incest, the greater severity of penalty is characterized by the East North Central Region, with the Middle Atlantic Region the least severe. 5. For the offense of incest, an inter-regional correlation in severity of penalty to that of the five Census Bureau subjects concentrated upon, appear generally inconsistent. 6. For the offense of abandonment, the West North Central Region possessed the more severe penalty and the West South Central Region was the least severe. 7. There appears, at least from an interstate perspective, a generally insufficiently demonstrated relation between Census Bureau data used and the rank in severity of criminal penalty for the offense of abandonment.



Child abuse--United States, Child welfare--United States.