Frank Edwards

Postdoctoral Associate, Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research, Cornell University

About Frank

Edwards examines why efforts at social control and social welfare provision vary across places. His current research focuses on how and why foster care, child abuse and neglect reporting, and racial inequalities in child welfare interventions vary dramatically across U.S. states and counties.

Edwards came to this research agenda after working with children and youth in the foster care system. After working closely with older youth in state care, he saw how the day-to-day implementation of child protection depends intimately on the interaction between a broad range of state agencies and actors including law enforcement, public health, and child welfare agencies. 


In the News

Frank Edwards's research on police brutality discussed by "Fatal Encounters with Police Should Be Documented Nationally," The Boston Globe, August 8, 2018.
"Police Kill About 3 Men Per Day in The US, According to New Study," Frank Edwards, The Conversation, August 6, 2018.
Frank Edwards's research on deaths from police discussed by Carolyn Crist, "Police-Involved Deaths Vary by Race and Place," Reuters, July 31, 2018.
Frank Edwards's research on police brutality discussed by Kelly Kasulis, "Eight Percent of All Male Homicides are Committed by Police, Study Says - and Black Men are Most at Risk," Mic, July 25, 2018.
"Mother and Child Disunion," Frank Edwards, Interview with Kathryn Joyce, Arkansas Times, June 9, 2016.


"Risk of Police-Involved Death by Race/Ethnicity and Place, United States, 2012–2018" American Journal of Public Health 108, no. 9 (2018): 1241-1248.

Estimates the risk of mortality from police homicide by race/ethnicity and place in the United States.

"Saving Children and Controlling Families: Punishment, Redistribution and Child Protection" American Sociological Review 81, no. 3 (2016).

Shows that state efforts at child protection are structured by the policy regimes in which they are enmeshed. Uses administrative data on child protection, criminal justice, and social welfare interventions to demonstrate that children are separated from their families and placed into foster care far more frequently in states with extensive and punitive criminal justice systems than in states with broad and generous welfare programs.

"Framing Punishment: Expert Selection and Punitive Ideology in the News" McGill Sociological Review 4 (2014): 93-112.

Finds that police and prosecutors were overrepresented in the press during a critical period of juvenile justice reform, and that this disproportion led to an increased presence of arguments about the failure of the contemporary juvenile court and the need for punitive change. These findings suggest that expert selection is an important mechanism in explaining the decline of rehabilitative ideologies and the rise of punitive ideologies in news media discourses.

"Digital Activism and Non-Violent Conflict" (with Mary Joyce and Phil Howard). Digital Activism Research Project (2013).

Summarizes a novel dataset describing global digital activism. These new data show that digital activism has a positive impact on drawing people to the streets to protest, especially when civil society groups use digital tools and changing government policy is the goal. If the objective is change in government or government policy, civil society groups have demonstrated success with just modest street protests and a few digital tools.