Sincetime in memorial, physical abuse remains a serious social problem. Itcovers an extensive range of crimes such as molestation, trafficking,abduction, sexual assaults, and maltreatment, among others thatresult in harming child’s health, survival, development, anddignity. It takes place where the abuser causes actual body injuriesto the child. It takes the form of kicking, striking, burning, orbiting the child. Unfortunately, most of these abuses are notreported to the police unless the consequences are severe such asinjury or even death. They have a negative impact on children and mayresult in cognitive, behavioral, emotional, or even developmentaldifficulties. Accordingly, there may be greater possibilities ofthese effects extending further into adulthood. For these reasons,proper investigation techniques, as well as appropriate handling ofcases minimizes the infliction of trauma for child abuse victims.This essay discusses the criminal investigation of physical childabuse, including the most current technology and advancements thatassist law enforcement to ease the process.
Accordingto Lyman(231),law enforcement agencies are legally responsible for investigatingall criminal activities, identifying, and arresting the offender, aswell as file appropriate criminal charges, but to a greater scopewhen children are the victims. This is because they are thevulnerable members of the society hence, their protection is morevital. Besides, parents, local authorities, healthcare professionals,teachers, and the entire community also have the responsibility tosafeguard children. Failure to proper investigations may lead todismissal of cases or falsely accusing innocent people. Investigatorsshould have sufficient techniques to investigate child abuseincluding interrogating the suspected offenders and interviewing thevictim. Law enforcement department should come up with comprehensivepolicies and procedures to investigate crimes that involve children.According to Lyman(232),established guidelines, protocols, and training guides in thedecision-making process. Therefore, the officers will always be awarewhat is expected of them in their jurisdiction.
Inaddition, physicians have a significant role to play in investigatinga child abuse (Kleinman80).They serve as educators, family counselors, and as influential childadvocates. They assist in alleviating stress on the victim bymanaging health problems, discussing crime consequences, andproviding child-rearing advice. In the case of child maltreatment,physicians, and other medical experts are responsible for identifyingsuspicious injuries, diagnosing abuse problem, administeringtreatment, reporting the suspected incident of ill-treatment to theauthorities, and testifying in subsequent legal proceedings. Lawenforcement investigators interact with physicians so that they canprovide medical evidence in court that the child was indeedphysically abused. Regrettably, some doctors are hesitant in theinvolvement of such cases. They do not report the incident becausethey cannot determine the offender. They find minimal professionaland personal rewards in dealing with the abuse. Besides, most of themare unwilling to testify in the court for fear of interrogation,cross-examination, possible litigation, or due to time constraints.
Inthe case of abuse, a person with a concern should report to thepolice. This might be a concerned adult, the local authority leader,or a specialist organization that deals with children welfare. Then,the police will work with social workers to interview the abusedchild to gain information about the crime. The officers also workwith other specialists in child crime. The team does one or more ofthe following to investigate the allegations. Firstly, they may sharethe information with the health services, authorities, schools, andthe local community to establish what is known. They can visit andspeak with the victim, with or without guardian permission. Once thevictim has calmed down, the police officer should talk to him or herand give assurance that the offender will be punished accordingly.According to (Lorandos et. al. 200), such conversations facilitate the officer to gain moreinformation on the incident, as well as assess the need for childprotection. Additionally, officers should be observant to seek anyphysical sign that shows abuse. Child interview is an essential partof procedure taken by investigators when dealing with child abuse, aswell as in trial proceedings given the fact that some physical abuseslack medical evidence. They should be aware at this point the childmay be afraid or withdrawn hence, they should use tactics to gaincomfort the victim. However, reluctance to talk or nervousness is notan indication that the abuse has taken place or not.
Further,they can visit the location where the offense took place, and searchfor evidence. If there are a sign of the abuse, they can arrange formedical examination and place the child under police protection ifthey find him or her at risk. In the meantime, they can gatherinformation from potential witnesses, and ask them to record astatement. They can preserve evidence of a crime such as instrumentsused to commit the crime. They can also photograph the scene toeliminate the search warrant need because they are legally at thescene. In some jurisdictions law enforcement, police officers arerequired to call child protective services to investigate abuseallegations and place the victim in emergency protective custody(Lorandos,Demosthenes, and Michael 180).Before the police officers remove the scene of the crime, they shouldensure the child is out of danger. In case a child cannot stay withthe parent or guardian, then he or she is placed under the custody ofsocial services department until the court makes the final custody ofthe child. Once the police conduct all investigations and gatherrelevant information, they prosecute the offender if there are enoughevidence and vice versa. Then, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS)makes the decision whether to charge the suspect (Lorandoset at., 200).
Today,modern technology and advancement have greatly assisted the lawenforcement in their investigations. For instance, doctors usemedical imaging technology such as computed tomography (CT), magneticresonance imaging (MRI), and other instruments with magnificationcapabilities for visualizing the hollow organ interior such as rectumand vagina (Kleinman78).Therefore, they can give concrete evident that the child is indeedabused. Additionally, technology is also used in the courtroom toprovide testimonies. Today, it is possible for a victim to testifyfrom a remote area using a closed-circuit television (CCTV). Also,CCTV technology allows a traumatized victim to give testimony farfrom the alleged offender. Police officers are now using recordingtechnology to record their interview with the victim hence,minimizing the number of times they recount to criminal justiceofficials. It is also used to catalog the evidence gathering, recordtestimonies, and deposition. The two technologies reduce furtheremotional harm to the victim (Kleinman,80).
In2014, Milwaukee, a twenty-eight years old mother was alleged forphysically abusing and neglecting her two years old child. Accordingto Delong (n.p), the criminal complaint says that on January 5, 2014,a social worker at children’s hospital received information of anabused child. According to doctors, the child conditions werecritical, and her injuries were clear evidence of child abuse. Whenthe mother was interviewed about the allegations, and she admittedspanking and grabbing the child hard and squeezing her, and that ishow she got bruises on her body. Further, she admitted burning herwith cigarettes, biting her, pushing her against the radiator withforce, and pushing her onto the floor. The doctors checked the childentire body to evaluate any injuries. The report showed the childsuffered a serious and life-threatening physical abuse. The policeofficers learned of this case of abuse after the child was admittedto the hospital with hand and head injuries. Hospital personnel whodealt with cases of child issues directed the mother to visit thehospital, and that is when she was arrested. Later, the policeinvestigated the case and arrested the offender was later taken tocourt (Delongn.p).
Toconclude, physical child abuse is a multidimensional issue that needsa multidisciplinary and multiagency team approach for a successfulintervention. Its investigations have many challenges hence, warrantspecific techniques should be employed for a successful outcome. Thiscall for all professionals involved including the law enforcement,mental experts, and child protective services to coordinate andcommunicate with one another. Further, consistent policies andprocedures application are essential to combat child maltreatmenteffectively.
Delong,K. (2014, January 11). Mother faces charges in case involving severechild abuse. Retrieved November 04, 2016, fromhttp://fox6now.com/2014/01/11/milw-mother-faces-charges-in-case-involving-severe-child-abuse/
Kleinman,Paul K. Diagnosticimaging of child abuse.Cambridge University Press, 2015.
Lorandos,Demosthenes, and J. Michael Bone. "Child Custody Evaluations: InCases Where Parental Alienation Is Alleged." Handbookof Child Custody.Springer International Publishing, 2016. 179-232.
Lyman,Michael D. CriminalInvestigation: The Art and the Science.Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education/Prentice Hall, 2011. Print.