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Child Abuse Investigation: An In-Depth Analysis of How Police Officers Perceive and Cope With Daily Work Challenges

NCJ Number
Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management Volume: 29 Issue: 3 Dated: 2006 Pages: 498-512
Rebecca Wright; Martine B. Powell; Damien Ridge
Date Published
15 pages
This study examined police officers' perceptions of the daily challenges involved in child abuse investigations and how these challenges were managed.
The authors suggest that regular case conferences between key stakeholders could provide a forum for open discussion of job-related stresses and how they might be managed. All officers in the study (25 police officers working in child abuse units across 3 Australian States) reported that work in child abuse investigations had many daily stressors. The two main sources of stress were a heavy caseload and the need to collaborate with other professional groups, particularly child protection service workers and legal professionals. These are stressors identified in previous similar studies. Having to provide briefs in a timely manner and share expertise with various professional groups were viewed as negative aspects of their work, in that they decreased officers' job satisfaction. Coping strategies reported by the officers were debriefing and sharing cases with trusted colleagues, workplace humor, and focusing on multiple roles in child abuse investigations rather than the law-enforcement aspect of the job. In-depth interviews were conducted with the 25 officers, and interview transcripts were coded in order to identify themes. 4 notes and 48 references