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Photodocumentation in the Investigation of Child Abuse

NCJ Number
Date Published
This guide provides suggestions for the selection and use of camera equipment, film, and photographic techniques that are appropriate for recording evidence of a child's physical condition when abuse is suspected.
The camera equipment should be easy to use and require little training; provide accurate color balance; provide for automatic exposure and capability for film advance and rewind; have a built-in flash with quick recharge; allow for a comfortable distance from the subject; be able to produce life-size reproductions of trauma sites; show larger areas of the body; and be able to photograph the device believed to have caused the injury. A table lists types of cameras and their advantages and disadvantages. The standard film for medical use in documenting child abuse is 35mm color slide film, which is relatively inexpensive, easy to file, and can be quickly converted into color prints if necessary. Detailed guidance is provided for film specification, the maintenance and storage of camera equipment and film, the time-frame for film processing after exposure, and backup equipment. Separate sections of the booklet briefly discuss ultraviolet photography and the photographing of injuries. General guidelines for photographing a suspected victim of child abuse are listed in another section. Methods are described for photographing the following specific injuries: punctures, slashes, rope burns, or pressure injuries; bite marks; bruises; burns; facial injuries; amputation; neglect; and sexual abuse. The booklet concludes with guidance on procedures for the courtroom presentation of and testimony about photodocumentation of physical injuries in a child abuse case. Listings of 15 supplemental readings and 21 organizational resources
Date Created: August 14, 2014