Volume 44, Issue 3 (May 1999)
Child Abduction: Aged-Based Analyses of Offender, Victim, and Offense Characteristics in 550 Cases of Alleged Child Disappearance
Crimes against children, particularly cases involving abduction and/or homicide, continue to be problematic as both a social phenomenon and judicial responsibility. Such cases routinely receive immense community and media attention and rapidly overwhelm investigative resources. Research in the area of childhood victimization, however, has only recently gained national prominence. While numerous studies on child abuse and neglect have been conducted, research on child abduction and homicide remains scant. Previous studies examining child abduction suffer from limited geographical scope or fail to base predictive analyses on victim characteristics. The current study reports the results of a nationally representative sample (47 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico) of 550 cases of alleged child abduction obtained from Federal Bureau of Investigation files for the period 1985 through 1995. Study results demonstrate that both offender and offense characteristics vary significantly according to victim age, gender, and race. Such differences appear critical to crime reconstruction, criminal profiling, and investigative resolution. Additionally, these data suggest that current child abduction prevention programs may emphasize inaccurate offender traits.