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Pub. Type Report
Title Prosecuting Child Physical Abuse Cases: A Case Study in San Diego
Author(s) Smith, Barbara E.
Subtitle/Series Name Research in Brief
Pub. Date 1995
Abstract More cases of child sexual abuse are prosecuted than cases of child physical abuse and neglect, although the incidence of physical abuse is significantly higher. One reason for this is the common assumption that the prosecutor is unwilling to process child physical abuse cases. San Diego was studied because it actively prosecutes child physical abuse cases. The San Diego multiagency approach has several distinctive characteristics. The Police Department and the District Attorney's Office each have specialized units with trained staff members who request assignment to the unit. In addition, Child Protective Services provides a 6- to 8-week training program on investigating child abuse and neglect to their newly hired workers. Roles and responsibilities of each agency are delineated in a memorandum of agreement to ensure that one agency does not interfere with the work of another. The medical community plays a pivotal role in collecting and interpreting evidence of child physical abuse. Multiagency meetings facilitate the coordination of individual cases and provide a forum for discussing general issues. Personnel interviewed in San diego generally express satisfaction with the multiagency approach, but they believe sentences imposed in child physical abuse cases are too lenient. One reason is that, while child sexual abuse is clearly perceived as unacceptable, child physical abuse requires distinguishing between appropriate discipline and criminal intent, a line frequently blurred. Researchers conclude that public education is needed to highlight the problem of child physical abuse. Other implications of the San Diego approach, such as coordinated agency action, training, and specialization, are discussed as ways to improve case processing and services for physically abused children. 13 notes and 3 exhibits source
Issue/No. NCJ 152978
Producer United States Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention
Place of Production Washington, DC

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