Taylor Ruddy

Date of Award

Summer 2021

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Criminology and Criminal Justice

First Advisor

Barbara Koons-Witt


Ever since the emergence of the crack cocaine epidemic and “crack babies”, our society has been concerned with women using substances during their pregnancy. The most appropriate response to this social issue has been heavily debated. Some think that the use of criminal justice initiatives and criminalization is the most effective method in deterring women from using while pregnant, and some promote utilizing public health methods to rehabilitate addicted women. There is a wealth of research and literature around this debate, however, there has not yet been any research examining public opinion on the most appropriate ways to handle this issue. This study explores the views of University of South Carolina students regarding social responses to substance use during pregnancy. This study hypothesizes that student views will be different based on several demographic categories. These hypotheses are investigated using t-tests and ANOVA. The results of this study suggest that students support a combination of criminal justice and public health initiatives to substance use during pregnancy. Policy implications, study limitations and future research are discussed.