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Shedding Light on Assault

NCJ Number
Date Published
November 2022

This “Justice Today Podcast” episode makes available a discussion on helping those affected by pediatric and adult assault, examining bruising and the impact of skin color, fat, and gender on bruise color.


In this podcast episode, host Maya Pilkington speaks with Dr. Katherine Scafide about her research on detecting bruises as well as her skills as a forensic nurse, and how those experiences help pediatric and adult victims of assault and domestic violence. The interviewer notes that documentation of soft tissue injuries such as bruises can be particularly difficult but that it is very important for the criminal justice process. Dr. Scafide explains what a forensic nurse is, how she documents assault and captures bruising on victims through narrative reports and digital images. She also discusses the National Institute of Justice’s (NIJ’s) medical protocol for standardizing what a medical forensic exam should entail, specifically its recommendation for using alternate light as a method for being able to visualize subtle injuries that are difficult to see; the research she has done on the predictive probability of detecting a bruise based on skin color for certain wavelengths; skin lesions that cause light absorption; and the potential for using artificial intelligence, specifically deep learning, to model how old bruises are.

Date Published: November 1, 2022