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Child Abuse Investigators, Spot on!

September 12, 2012

I started off working with serious delinquent offenders in an isolated work camp deep in the Poconos in Pennsylvania. It was much later while in management that I assumed responsibility of all programs for dependent and delinquent children in a district in Florida. I didn’t know much at all about abused and neglected kids when I started. I had good staff to teach me, and I got out and learned first-hand.

I recall going out on my first investigation. I accompanied one of our pros, but I was to take the lead. The anonymous report indicated that a young mother was neglecting her baby. I got to the front door steaming about girls who harm their own kids, and punched the door bell. A girl, age nineteen, if I recall correctly, opened the door and peered at me from behind a door chain. I stood right at 6’ 5” back in the day and I carried more than my share of weight. I snapped out my lines. I’m positive what she heard was this: “We are from the FBI to investigate a murder, so open the damn door!”

She immediately started  sobbing as she slid free the chain and stepped back wringing her hands, blues eyes as big as gas caps. When I actually stepped up and into her little haven she backed up as if I would surely slap her silly! To tell you the truth, I didn’t know what to say. I had thought of nothing beyond the introduction. Seeing a kid, sobbing like her pet puppy had died, kinda took the wind out of my sails so to speak.

My companion, not much older than the girl, seized control. She spoke to her in a tone which was the total opposite of mine. She relieved the girl’s panic, actually putting her arm around her and softly encouraging her to calm down. Eventually the two women walked side by side to the nursery. I followed like a huge shadow and watched as my investigator deftly checked the baby form head to toe, opening her diaper and refastening it, without a peep from the child. Next, the investigator secretly signaled me that all was fine.

Later, back in the little living room, I managed a question. I asked her if she knew anyone who might be worried about the little one. She looked down at the floor and said that her mother-in-law had said the child was too thin. The investigator assured her that the baby looked fine. All babies are not chunky and fat. Then she suggested a very simple way to assure all concerned, that that was true. She asked the girl for permission to send over a nurse from the health department for a healthy baby checkup. And, that really did settle that!

This was a simple investigation, right? Not at all! I proved that investigators had to have their antennae out at all times. I botched it from the very beginning. Men had to learn to gently soothe the scared and wounded, and play with Teddy bears. Women had to learn to stand their ground in the face of a threatening and abusive drunk! More importantly all had to have the wisdom of Solomon to sort through the issues, get at the truth, and recommend to parents or to a judge, the absolute, spot-on solution for the children each and every time.

One Comment
  1. Super. Thanx for the story.

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