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September 2005Vol. 6, No. 7Improving Effectiveness of Child Abuse Investigations

In a recent article published in Trauma, Violence, & Abuse, researchers examined seven approaches to child abuse investigations that are considered "best practice" in the child welfare field to determine whether outcome research supports their popularity. These seven approaches were developed and implemented primarily in response to identified needs and less in response to research evidence. The seven approaches include:

  • Multidisciplinary team investigations
  • Trained child forensic interviewers
  • Videotaped interviews
  • Specialized forensic medical examiners
  • Victim advocacy programs
  • Improved access to mental health treatments
  • Children's advocacy centers

Literature reviews showed preliminary scientific support for many of these practices, including the use of multidisciplinary teams, trained forensic interviewers, and trained and experienced medical examiners. Researchers also found evidence that some mental health treatment approaches can reduce stress and improve emotional well-being for victims. However, the literature reviews also indicated that more outcome-based research is needed for these practices. The study's authors recommend that researchers do more to serve the needs of professionals in the field and that resources for outcome-based research be increased to better protect children and help them recover from victimization.

The full article describing this research, "Criminal Investigations of Child Abuse: The Research Behind 'Best Practices'," was written by L. M. Jones, T. P. Cross, W. Walsh, and M. Simone and published in the July 2005 issue of Trauma, Violence, & Abuse. The article is available for purchase from Sage Journals Online at