Proactive Investigator Tools?
by My Two Cents
I work with adults that have developmental disabilities and I have been toying with the idea of using a book of some type to educate this population, especially children about how to stay safe. It's very complicated when the population is non-verbal and also receives intimate personal care. I kind of doubt it will work, but the process is proving very interesting.
I have been playing around with the idea of writing some type of novel or short story with a child abuse investigator as a central character (among many other ideas) and I have become quite frustrated at the realization that child abuse investigations do not seem to have progressed at all in the past two, three decades (I detail some of this in my post titled Question For Survivors.
In the case of physical abuse, there may be visible evidence in the form of bruises, scratches, broken bones, black eyes, and so on.
Neglect - well if it's December in Alberta and a child comes to school in a tank top and shorts....??? Or if a child goes to regular medical check-ups and the doctor notes he/she is not hitting the appropriate developmental milestones, this could be a signal that further investigation is required.
But in the case of sexual abuse, where the abuse is happening in the privacy of the victim's own home, perhaps even the further privacy of the bathroom and one parent is completely unaware of what is going on?
How does an investigator become aware of this abuse? The child has to disclose to someone, someone has to realize how serious it is and further know that they need to report it, and report it to the appropriate authorities (or to people who can contact the appropriate people).
So....with all the technology at our disposal today, what are the new methods that social workers, police officers and investigators can use?
The only "hard" evidence I can think of would be pornographic images of children in sexual acts or featuring their sexual parts in extreme detail. The investigator has to find these photos somehow.....
Traditional policing methods don't seem to work - is a female police officer going to go undercover and become a victim's stepmother in order to catch the biological father in the commission of a sexual act on the child? I guess the police could get a warrant to bug the home and somehow get video evidence of how the abuser treats the child? They have to have a suspicion that something is happening in the first place for either of these approaches, and I'm stuck trying to figure out how you get to that point.
I would love to hear from anyone who has some ideas on how a social work investigator could find these types of cases more proactively.
I saw border security (t.v. program) recently, and the airport had a full body x-ray scanner that suspected smugglers had to go through. I wondered if those could be installed in schools at the entrances/exits and they could scan the children for injuries? This would be good for finding broken bones, and while it may not be the result of abuse, it could identify children who could use follow-up.
....Yes, yes, I know. The expense, the potential risk from repeated exposure to x-rays, the invasion of privacy. Pretend your suggestion, whatever it is, is being used in a fictional setting. I just want some ideas on expanding the investigator's tools.
Many thanks all!!
My Two Cents