Investigation of Child Abuse

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There is no question that child abuse is a serious problem in the United States of America. The number of cases is staggering, the types of abuse are varied, and the consequences for the abused children can be severe. In 2006, for instance, it was reported that there were more than three million referrals, involving more than six million children, by Child Protective Service Agencies through the country (National Child Abuse Statistics, 2007: 1).


Although more than six million children were involved in referrals by Child Protective Service Agencies in 2006, only "1,907,264 investigations received a disposition" (National Child Abuse Statistics, 2007: 1). A legitimate concern, therefore, is whether too many referrals are being made or whether the investigative process is somehow deficient. This essay will discuss and analyze the investigative process as it typically pertains to child abuse situations.
As an initial matter, it is important to note that a uniform approach to child abuse investigations is complicated by the fact that each state has different statutory definitions of child abuse and neglect. There are federal standards that serve as guidelines, but states are free to create and enforce their own definitions so long as the state definitions do not conflict with federal law. ...
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