Police charging decisions in child maltreatment investigations: Findings from the 2008 Ontario Incidence Study of Reported Child Abuse and Neglect
The objective of this study was to use logistic regression and examine factors that influence charging decisions by the police during child maltreatment investigations. An estimated 4,808 substantiated child maltreatment investigations that involved police were obtained from the 2008 Ontario Incidence Study of Reported Child Abuse and Neglect. Of the 4,808 cases examined, police laid charges in about one-third of the cases. Controlling for all other factors, police were 1.6 times more likely to lay charges in physical abuse cases and 2.5 times more likely to lay charges in sexual abuse cases. Other factors associated with police charging decisions include: older victim, cases with multiple types of maltreatment, cases opened for ongoing services, and cases of the child living in a house known to have drugs or household hazards. The article discusses the results and their implications for child welfare policy and practice.