Honors College Theses

Publication Date



Criminal Justice and Criminology (B.S.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Faculty Mentor

Caitlin Brady


While placing a child in foster care is often in an effort to protect them and their future, it does not always fully succeed. Placement in foster care has been found to be highly unstable. Additionally, it has been linked to an increase in individuals’ likelihood to engage in delinquent and criminal behavior. This thesis looks at the possibility that these two aspects may be related through Hirschi’s (1969) Social Bond theory. It examines available data from ten different states in order to explore this idea. The results of this investigation show that the instability of the foster care system likely leads to the breaking of social bonds. This, in turn, is likely linked to the increased likelihood that those who have had contact with the system will engage in delinquent or criminal behavior. These findings are used to make several recommendations for how the foster care system can be improved and what additional research would be beneficial to that improvement process.