Forensic Evaluation of Child Abuse

  • Daniel S. Lobel


This chapter is an overview of the evaluation of child abuse and neglect for use in forensic settings. The topic of child abuse and neglect is relevant to numerous legal proceedings. They include criminal prosecution of perpetrators, contested child custody and visitation determinations, and civil liability. Two different components of evaluation are discussed: the determination of whether or not abuse or neglect has occurred, and the determination of the causality, or identification of a specific perpetrator. Various definitions of child abuse and neglect are discussed and contrasted as they differ from state to state in the USA. Federal efforts at definition are also discussed. Standards and guidelines for forensic evaluation of child abuse and neglect are also reviewed. Other responsibilities of examiners such as mandates for reporting child abuse to authorities and the need to protect the child from harmful aftereffects of the examination are also discussed. Specific procedures for the evaluation of suspected child abuse and neglect are reviewed and critiqued. These include methods of interviewing and observation as well as use of corroborating information. Relevant research is described and cited. Case studies are used to illustrate different applications of evaluation techniques that insure the validity and reliability of findings and safeguard the admissibility of findings. Topics related to courtroom testimony of forensic evaluators of child abuse and neglect are also discussed. These include admissibility of expert testimony as defined by Rule of Evidence 702 based on Frye and Daubert standards, which also vary from state to state.


Sexual Abuse Child Abuse Child Sexual Abuse Emotional Abuse Penal Code 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel S. Lobel
    • 1
  1. 1.Mt. Sinai School of MedicineNew YorkUSA

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