7.05.2011

Competence And Intelligence - Child Sexual Abuse Investigation – Futuristic Or Common Sense Part XIII


By Lawrence W. Daly, MSc

In reviewing the type of child sexual abuse investigations, which are being taken worldwide, is not something one can write about in a day or a month, maybe in a year, but could be accomplished in five years definitely.  The problem with this analysis is child sexual abuse investigations are very complex, and has a process, which is ever changing.  Just when law enforcement officer’s believe and think they were doing the child sexual abuse child victim interviews correctly, some investigative psychologists comes along and tells the law enforcement officer differently.  They say, “No, the manner in which the law enforcement officer has been conducting child sexual abuse child victim interviews over the past 40 years, you were doing them incorrectly…our studies demonstrate you should do it this way”.

If you are a law enforcement officer who investigates child sexual abuse allegations, does the above sound familiar? Are there any differences in any other field in this world, where you may have become complacent, then all of sudden, out of nowhere, an individual (generally another professional and/or manager) comes along and has innovative and creative ideas on how to conduct a procedure, change a protocol or method with futuristic ideologies and/or what just seems like common sense.
Until you get into the subject matter, which affects all of those who know little about the key protocols, procedures, and processes it is difficult for someone to understand why change is generally positive and necessary. Still even if you are in charge of the protocols, procedures, and processes, when all these years you tried to implement the change, you found there was little you could do to make the necessary changes.  Then the protocols, procedures, and processes you have been thinking needed to be changed are implemented by someone who has as much credibility as the man who is talking to you and has no clothes on. How serious would you take him? Is this a slap in the face? Don’t drop that chin, keep it high and understand, your time of recognition may be just around the corner.
Discussing the need to analyze how child sexual abuse investigations are conducted by law enforcement officials currently, is forever necessary and prudent.  Before I begin discussing this subject thoroughly, competently and intelligently, I want to remind you that investigating child sexual abuse is yet to become a science. Science does exists somewhere in the middle of the collection of evidence to determine if a criminal act has or has not taken place. Let us begin a general overview and in the upcoming days deal more specifically with the divisions, responsibilities and necessary actions, which should be considered when developing the child sexual abuse investigative protocols, procedures, and processes.
When I was growing up, the Internet was non-existent and the only communication was a rotary dialed telephone which took forever to dial and connect to the person I was calling. There were three local channels which were available for viewing. Since 1960’s, things have changed. Some would argue not to the level of intelligence and competence, which is necessary, if law enforcement officials are willing to improve and implement, improve and implement, and in the end, make a difference.
Since the 1960’s the method and techniques utilized by law enforcement officials to investigate crimes against persons has come leaps and bounds.
In the 1970’s victim advocates were allowed to create groups and advocate for women who were being raped and domestically assaulted and no one was giving them the support and credibility they deserved. With the lack of respect for victimized woman came the children and the need to protect them as well.
In the 1980’s law enforcement came on board and the child abuse investigation protocols, procedures, and processes were slowly implemented into the criminal justice system. Law enforcement officials began meeting with other professionals in the child sexual abuse network. County wide protocols, procedures, and processes were created so everyone was working together for a common cause i.e. finding the truth and in the meantime, protecting the children from child molesters and abusive adults in the children’s lives.
In the 1990’s major controversy over repressed memories and how the counseling and therapy communities were sabotaging women’s minds who may have had memories of being sexually assaulted from infancy until adulthood and sometimes past adulthood. The problem was these claims at first were given credibility, but then the lack of physical, biological, journals, lack of credible and reliable witnesses, and trace evidence raised many questions of validity i.e. were they true?
In the decade of the new century, 2000’s, the science of child sexual abuse issues began to be a part of the type of investigations which were being conducted. The protocols, procedures, and processes of how to interview child victims has improved to the level where it is now understood how poor interviews and clumsy investigations could harm the outcome of the investigation.
Currently, the types of law enforcement child sexual abuse investigations, which seem futuristic, are basic common sense decision-making child sexual abuse investigations.  Law enforcement, continues to hang on to the common sensical type investigations, which is both good and bad.
The good of the law enforcement child sexual abuse investigative protocols, procedures, and processes are for the most common sense, not complicated and easy to follow. The bad (not understood) of the law enforcement child sexual abuse investigative protocols, procedures, and processes is that over the past four decades these policies, have not been futuristic, creative and/or innovative.  In fact, law enforcement has utilized the same methods and techniques with little creative and innovative advancements for a long time.
Researchers in the field of child sexual abuse, are generally at the level of competence and intelligence where they are asking other professionals in the network, just how much training and education is really necessary? Using this same mindset that most of law enforcement child sexual abuse investigative protocols, procedures, and processes are common sense, appears to be relatively cyclical in nature. Therefore, the creation of sophisticated and futuristic ideas will continue to be placed into the corner, until someone in the law enforcement community steps up and becomes the leader. This leader has yet to find his/her way to the top of the investigative chain, where they will make a definite change in the protocols, procedures, and processes in the child sexual abuse investigative field.
Looking over this series of “is it futuristic or common sense”, it is this author’s hope that we will discover some ideas, which will improve the protocols, procedures, and processes in the field of law enforcement child sexual abuse investigations.  Over the next week we will explore the futuristic versus common sense approach and which approach has taken place over the past four decades. Is there enough information to draw from?  Only time will tell.

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