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POLICE (FROM HELPING THE BATTERED CHILD AND HIS FAMILY 1972, BY C HENRY KEMPE AND RAY E HELFER - SEE NCJ-15310)

NCJ Number
49044
Author(s)
R A PITCHER JR
Date Published
1972
Annotation
FACTORS IN DEFINING AN APPROPRIATE ROLE FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES IN COMBATING CHILD ABUSE ARE DISCUSSED, WITH SPECIAL ATTENTION TO THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN POLICE AND CHILD PROTECTIVE AGENCIES.
Abstract
LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES HAVE A LEGITIMATE INTEREST IN THE SOCIAL PROBLEM CREATED BY FAMILIES IN WHICH CHILDREN ARE THE VICTIMS OF PHYSICAL AGGRESSION. BUT AN EXACT ROLE FOR POLICE HAS NOT BEEN ESTABLISHED, IN PART BECAUSE OF THE TENDENCY OF OTHER PROFESSIONS TO REGARD POLICE OFFICERS AS AUTHORITY FIGURES WHOSE CONTACT WITH ABUSIVE FAMILIES IS UNDESIRABLE. ATTITUDES WITHIN THE LAW ENFORCEMENT PROFESSION ABOUT CHILD ABUSE ARE BECOMING LESS PUNITIVE. LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES HAVE UNIQUE CAPABILITIES AND CHARACTERISTICS--E.G. ABILITY TO RESPOND TO EMERGENCIES, HIGH VISIBILITY IN THE COMMUNITY--THAT CAN BE OF VALUE IN EFFORTS TO PROTECT CHILDREN FROM ABUSE. IN GENERAL, POLICE ACTIVITIES SHOULD COMPLEMENT CHILD PROTECTIVE AGENCY SERVICES AS NEEDED. EXCEPT IN SITUATIONS IN WHICH CHILD PROTECTIVE AGENCY PERSONNEL ARE NOT AVAILABLE, EXTENSIVE POLICE INVOLVEMENT IN ABUSE CASES SHOULD BE RESTRICTED TO CASES INVOLVING SERIOUS INJURY. IF THE CHILD PROTECTIVE AGENCY HAS THE CAPABILITY OF RECEIVING AND RESPONDING QUICKLY TO REPORTS OF ABUSE AROUND THE CLOCK, THAT AGENCY PROBABLY SHOULD BE THE ONE MANDATED TO RECEIVE REPORTS. HOWEVER, WHERE SUCH A CAPABILITY DOES NOT EXIST, THE POSSIBILITY OF A CENTRAL REFERRAL UNIT OPERATED JOINTLY BY THE LAW ENFORCEMENT AND WELFARE AGENCIES SHOULD BE CONSIDERED. IDEALLY, A CENTRAL FILE OF REPORTS SHOULD BE AVAILABLE TO ALL AGENCIES DEALING WITH FAMILIES. IN THE ABSENCE OF SUCH A FILE, AGENCIES SHOULD MAKE A SPECIAL EFFORT TO SHARE ALL INFORMATION THAT MIGHT LEAD TO INTERVENTION IN ABUSIVE OR POTENTIALLY ABUSIVE FAMILIES. THE LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCY'S GREATEST CONTRIBUTION TO A COMBINED COMMUNITY CHILD PROTECTION PROGRAM MAY BE IN THE AREA OF CASE FINDING. PATROL OFFICERS ARE IN A UNIQUE POSITION TO IDENTIFY PROBLEM FAMILIES, BOTH FROM DIRECT ENCOUNTERS AND THROUGH INFORMAL SOURCES, AND SHOULD RECEIVE TRAINING IN THE CHILD ABUSE SYNDROME. JOINT INVESTIGATIONS OF CHILD ABUSE CASES BY POLICE OFFICERS AND SOCIAL WORKERS PROVIDE A PRACTICAL MEANS OF CAPITALIZING ON THE STRENGTHS OF BOTH PROFESSIONS. POLICE OFFICERS ASSIGNED TO INVESTIGATE CHILD ABUSE CASES SHOULD BE CAREFULLY SELECTED AND TRAINED. A COORDINATED, COOPERATIVE APPROACH BY POLICE AND CHILD PROTECTIVE AGENCIES OFFERS ADVANTAGES IN THE HANDLING OF CHILD ABUSE CASES BOTH THROUGH CRIMINAL PROSECUTION AND THROUGH JUVENILE/FAMILY COURT PROCESSING. A LIST OF REFERENCES IS INCLUDED. (LKM)