Bulletin Reports 

Portable Guide to Investigating Child Abuse 

In July 2014 the Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention released “Recognizing When a Child’s Injury or Illness Is Caused by Abuse: Portable Guide to Investigating Child Abuse.” It is important to note that an injury by itself does not indicate abuse. A comprehensive assessment by a team of knowledgeable professionals is the best approach to reaching an accurate determination.

Every year law enforcement agencies in the United States investigate more than 3.3 million cases of child maltreatment. Yearly an estimated 2,000 children die from abuse and mistreatment. Law enforcement personnel have the responsibility of protecting children and often are tasked with determining if a child’s injury is accidental or deliberate. This guide, first developed in 1996, provides information about the numerous indicators of child maltreatment and abuse to help first responders and investigators differentiate between physical abuse and accidental injury.

When a suspicious injury is reported, it is vital that law enforcement conduct an immediate assessment, ensure that the child receives medical care, identify witnesses, and collect evidence from the scene. In documenting evidence, investigators should obtain high-quality photos to document all injuries and their changes over time, solicit second opinions from other professionals, and supplement case reviews.

This guide can be retrieved from http://www.ojjdp.gov/pubs/243908.pdf, July 2014, NCJ 243908.