Gender Issues

, Volume 18, Issue 2, pp 58-73

First online:

Family abductions: An examination of the role of offender gender

  • Dianne Cyr CarmodyAffiliated withDepartment of Sociology and Criminal Justice at Old Dominion University Email author 
  • , Peggy S. PlassAffiliated withDepartment of Sociology and Anthropology at James Madison University

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Utilizing data from a national study of missing children, this article compares family abductions perpetrated by men and women. Comparisons focus on the incidence, outcomes, and institutional responses to the abductions. Also, the relationship between the abductor and child(ren), harm to the child(ren), the use of concealment, and the characteristics of abductors and children are examined. Women perpetrated approximately one third of the abductions in the study. Female perpetrated abductions were more likely to involve concealment of the child, and were of longer duration. The relationship between these patterns and patterns of custody and societal expectations regarding parental roles of men and women are discussed. Broader implications for the understanding of female criminality are also explored.