Gender Disparity in Pennsylvania Child Abuse and Neglect Sentencing Outcomes

Lily Hanrath, Sarah Font

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Sentencing studies consistently show that male offenders receive more severe sentences than females. However, theory-based explanations for gender disparities in sentencing, which posit lenience is partially based on caregiver status, may be less relevant for crimes against children. This study leverages Pennsylvania Sentencing Commission data to assess sentence type and length among adults convicted of child neglect or physical abuse between 2006 and 2016. Employing bivariate and multivariate statistics, we found that, although female perpetrators make up the majority of child neglect and physical abuse perpetrators in the Child Protective Services system, they are a minority of those convicted. If convicted, women received less harsh sentences than men, consistent with the disparate gender patterns found in general criminal sentencing research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1703-1728
Number of pages26
JournalCrime and Delinquency
Issue number12
StatePublished - Nov 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Law


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