U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

INVESTIGATING CHILD ABUSE AND NEGLECT CASES

NCJ Number
49197
Journal
POLICE LAW QUARTERLY Volume: 7 Issue: 4 Dated: (JULY 1978) Pages: 17-27
Author(s)
C M RYAN
Date Published
1978
Length
11 pages
Annotation
GUIDELINES FOR POLICE INVESTIGATION OF CHILD ABUSE (PHYSICAL ABUSE) AND CHILD NEGLECT (ACTS OF OMISSION OR COMMISSION WHICH INJURE A CHILD) ARE PRESENTED.
Abstract
THROUGHOUT THE UNITED STATES, THE LAW HAS BEEN STATED THAT NO ONE MAY INTERFERE WITH A PARENT'S RIGHT TO RAISE A CHILD EXCEPT WHEN THE PARENT ABUSES OR NEGLECTS THE CHILD. TO INVESTIGATE NEGLECT, ONE MUST ASSESS WHAT THE PERSON RESPONSIBLE FOR THE CARE OF THE CHILD HAS HAS NOT DONE FOR THE CHILD, AND WHAT INJURIOUS EFFECT THIS ACTION OR INACTION HAS HAD ON THE CHILD. IN CHILD ABUSE, THERE USUALLY IS MEDICAL EVIDENCE OF THE ABUSE WHICH MAY BE SUBSTANTIATED THROUGH PHOTOGRAPHIC EVIDENCE OR PHYSICIAN TESTIMONY. IN CASES OF BURNS, FRACTURES, BITES, SEXUAL ABUSE, AND FAILURE TO THRIVE, THE PHYSICIAN'S TESTIMONY MAY OFTEN ELUCIDATE THE INTENTIONAL QUALITY OF THE INJURY OR PROVIDE EVIDENCE CONTRARY TO THE PARENT'S CLAIM OF AN ACCIDENTAL OF OTHER CAUSE. INVESTIGATION OF THESE KINDS OF ABUSE WILL INVOLVE INTERVIEWING THE PARENT, THE CHILD, NEIGHBORS, HOSPITAL OR SOCIAL SERVICE PERSONNEL OR SCHOOL STAFF FOR CONFIRMING EVIDENCE. IN GENERAL, NEGLECT IS LACK OF APPROPRIATE ACTION ON THE PARENT'S PART. THE OFFICER SHOULD LOOK FOR THE LINK BETWEEN PARENTAL ACTIONS AND THE CONDITION OF THE CHILD. IN MANY CASES, SUBSTANTIATION OF THE CHILD'S CONDITION MAY REQUIRE SPECIAL DOCUMENTATION, IN CASES OF MEDICAL NEGLECT, RESULTING EITHER FROM THE PARENT'S RELIGIOUS BELIEFS OR FROM THE PARENT'S ABSENCE, APATHY, OR ANTAGONISM, THE OFFICER SHOULD ASCERTAIN THE CHILD'S CONDITION AND NECESSARY TREATMENT FROM MEDICAL PERSONNEL. THE PARENT'S REFUSAL TO PERMIT SUCH NECESSARY TREATMENT, DESPITE AN AWARENESS OF THE CONSEQUENCES OF THE REFUSAL, MUST ALSO BE CONFIRMED. IN OTHER TYPES OF NEGLECT, PHOTOGRAPHS OF NEGLECTED INJURIES, DANGEROUS ENVIRONMENTS, OR UNINHABITABLE HOME CONDITIONS MAY BE DEMONSTRATIVE OF CHRONIC NEGLECT. CONVERSATIONS WITH THE FAMILY MAY ALSO PROVE HELPFUL. AS THE VARIOUS CHILD-RELATED PROFESSIONS LEARN MORE ABOUT NEGLECT, THE INVESTIGATING OFFICER WILL HAVE MORE MEANS OF DETERMINING WHETHER A CHILD IS NEGLECTED. (JAP)