Child abuse investigation: an in-depth analysis of how police officers perceive and cope with daily work challenges

Wright, R, Powell, MB and Ridge, Damien T. (2006) Child abuse investigation: an in-depth analysis of how police officers perceive and cope with daily work challenges. Policing: an International Journal of Police Strategies & Management, 29 (3). pp. 498-512. ISSN 1363-951X

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Purpose - The purpose of the current study was two-fold: to explore police officers' perceptions of the daily challenges involved in child abuse investigation and how those challenges affect their ability to undertake child abuse investigations, and to explore how these challenges are managed on a daily basis. Design/methodology/approach - This study employed a qualitative research design. In-depth interviews were conducted with a diverse sample of 25 police officers working in child abuse units across three Australian states. Findings - Inductive thematic analysis revealed that heavy caseload and collaboration with other professional groups are two key sources of negative work stress frequently associated with child abuse investigation. Further, despite the provision of organisational strategies aimed at reducing work stress, the officers tended to rely predominantly on informal coping mechanisms. Research limitations/implications - This study has raised many questions for further research aimed at developing interventions to assist police organisations in managing work stress. Originality/value - This paper provides an in-depth analysis of the key challenges associated with child abuse investigation and the coping mechanisms employed for overcoming these challenges from the unique perspective of police officers authorised to investigate child abuse.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Child welfare, police, stress
Subjects: University of Westminster > Science and Technology
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Date Deposited: 27 Feb 2007
Last Modified: 09 Sep 2015 09:10

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