Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Social Work

Major Professor

Anne Strozier, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Robin Ersing, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Lisa Rapp-Paglicci, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Mario Hernandez, Ph.D.


Neglect and abuse, fatal child abuse, perpetrator characteristics, prior abuse reports, risk and protective factors, ecological perspective


Approximately 2000 children die annually in the United States from abuse and neglect, but the interplay of factors such as perpetrator characteristics and family composition which place these children at risk have not been wellestablished. The review of the literature focuses on the correlation between child deaths resulting from abuse and perpetrator characteristics most associated with these deaths. Characteristics such as the perpetrator’s age, race/ethnicity, gender, alcohol and substance use/abuse and/or sale, and prior history of abuse are among those examined. Additionally, these factors are examined within ecological and risk and protective factor theoretical frameworks. It is argued that further research on perpetrator characteristics and the risk of fatal child abuse is urgently needed to identify those perpetrator risk factors that place children at great risk of death resulting from abuse. These findings will provide child welfare professionals an opportunity to offer intervention services that mitigate the risk to the child. In addition, this study employing multivariate statistical analysis will be used to inform the practice of child protection professionals so that they may better understand the personal characteristics of perpetrators and how those factors place children at risk of abuse and possible death