Date of Conferral





Criminal Justice


Robert Spivey


Two decades of research documents the lack of conclusive relationships between childprotective investigations and natural disasters. While trends regarding child abuse report generation and natural disaster have been previously explored, those results do not provide generalized conclusions. This study explores the relationship between the Hurricane Irma natural disaster and child abuse report generation of a child protection organization in the state of Florida, while introducing child maltreatment types and child protective investigator response times as contributing factors. Utilizing the emergency management conceptual framework, the purpose of this study is to provide an updated analysis of the child abuse report generation relationship and addresses the additional operational factors of response time and child maltreatment types. Research questions addressed the Pasco County Child Protection Division as a machine with input and output variables to explore the influence of the number of reports and maltreatment type on investigator response times. A quasi-experimental interrupted time series study was completed utilizing a sample size of 10,406 child abuse reports retrieved from Cornell University’s National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect, representing the timeframe of September 2016 to August 2018. Group statistics, independent samples, and ANOVA testing techniques were utilized to complete the analysis. The results illustrate a reduction in child abuse reporting just prior to the disaster event, coinciding with a reduction in investigator response time. The framework introduced in this study provides direction for other child protection investigation organizations to analyze response capabilities during a disaster leading to positive social change.