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Investigating Child Fatalities

NCJ Number
209764
Date Published
Author(s)
Walsh, B.
Publication Series
OJJDP Portable Guides to Investigating Child Abuse
Annotation
This guide offers law enforcement officers concise, practical information in the effective investigation of child fatalities.
Abstract
Every year in the United States, tens of thousands of children die from a variety of causes, including illnesses, diseases, accidents, suicides, and homicides. The tragedy of a child’s sudden death is a loss which can be compounded if law enforcement fails to conduct a proper investigation. Flawed investigations can result in two outcomes: (1) an innocent person will be suspected or accused of either a crime that did not occur or the accused did not commit or (2) a real crime will remain undetected or unsolved. The purpose of this portable guide is to provide practical information for law enforcement officers investigating child fatality cases, cases where investigators believe abuse or neglect caused or contributed to the fatal injury of the child. It is also useful for child protective service and other professionals involved in these cases. The guide provides information on the nature of child fatality cases, how child fatalities differ from other types of homicide cases, the roles of child protective services and law enforcement, conducting the investigation, documenting the case, interrogation, and testifying in court. Professionally conducted investigations of child fatalities ensure that innocent people are not falsely accused of wrongdoing and guilty people are not allowed to escape justice and potentially harm another child. Resources
Date Created: August 13, 2014