Law Enforcement’s Evolving Mission to Protect Children

  • Stephanie C. Stronks Knapp
Part of the Child Maltreatment book series (MALT, volume 2)


The mission of protecting children and adolescents from maltreatment and exploitation has seen many advances since the initial publication of C. Henry Kempe’s landmark research and publication of the 1st edition of “The Battered Child Syndrome” in 1962. Law enforcement’s role and participation in this effort has evolved as well. As our fundamental understanding and knowledge of investigating child abuse and neglect cases and the development of improved investigative techniques have increased dramatically over the last 50 years, so too have the challenges and celebrations associated with law enforcement’s role in protecting children. This chapter will speak to the evolving status of best practice in the field of child abuse investigations; raise some of the challenging and controversial issues investigators manage through the course of their careers and some of the resulting policy changes as a result of their efforts. Finally this chapter will address questions about the short term and long term impact the direct practice of investigating crimes against children has on law enforcement professionals.


Child Abuse Child Sexual Abuse Crime Scene Child Protective Service Child Pornography 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



 The author acknowledges that various titles exist when referring to those responsible for the investigation of any crime against a child, for the purposes of this chapter they will be referred to as an investigator.

While acknowledging that perpetrators can be both male and female, for the sake of continuity, the pronoun he will be used to designate the offender. This use is not meant to generalize or make assumptions.

The author wishes to acknowledge Retired Child Abuse Detective Michael V. Johnson of the Plano Police Department for his significant contribution to this chapter. His conception of the investigative philosophy, the “Investigative Window of Opportunity” (Johnson 2009) resonates with this author and is used as a framework in this chapter with Michael’s support and blessing.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.FBI Office for Victim Assistance, Denver DivisionLoveland RALovelandUSA

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