Child Abuse Forensics for RWA Lecture

Charles Ennis
VPD Det. (retired)
Police Dispatcher for ECOMM for SW BC
Writing Resources on My Blog:
 Police procedural
 Medieval arms and armor
 Occult lexicon
Car 86
Child abuse and neglect investigation
Car 87/88
 Dealing with mentally
disordered individuals
Attempted Exculpations
(My Favorite Excuses From Suspects)
“I only had 2 beers”
“I only use occasionally”
“The babysitter was on the way when I left”
“I was only gone for 5 minutes”
“I’m (shopping/cleaning/doing laundry) tomorrow”
“But they have toys!”
“I only hit him lightly”
Forensic Issues
Children frequently fall or bump into things
 Skin over lower legs, forearms &
face easily crushed, causing
 Skin over padded parts of
anatomy such as buttocks hard
to bruise
Back from neck down to the back of the knees,
including the shoulders and the entire length of the
victim’s arms.
Primary Target Zone
(Source: Child Abuse and Neglect, Volcano Press)
Red Flag Areas
Common Weapons
Bruise Aging:
Dusky purple/blue black
Immediate 24 hr
Soon after
4-5 days
7 – 10 days
14 – 15 days
Linear Bruising
Linear Bruising
Things Mistaken for Bruises
 Hemophiliacs bruise easily
 Allergic Rhinitis (inflammation of mucous membrane
of the nose) can cause a black eye
Migrating bruise from forehead can cause a black eye
Cao Gio
Mongolian Spots
Allergic Rhinitis
Mongolian Spots
 95 % of Black children
 81% of Hispanic children
 10% of White children
Mongolian Spots
Cao Gio: A common fever remedy in Asia
Cupping: Another Fever Remedy
Shaken Baby
 Violent shaking of the baby, causing injury similar to
whiplash suffered by victims of motor vehicle
accidents. The brain is thrown about inside the skull,
causing torn blood vessels and bruising.
Shaken Baby Stats:
 1,000 to 1,500 infants/year.
 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
 Of the almost 2,000 children who die from abuse or
neglect each year, shaken baby syndrome accounts for
 Victims commonly between 3 and 8 months old;
however, it has been reported in newborns and in
children up to 4 years of age.
 25% of all children diagnosed with shaken baby
syndrome die from their injuries.
Shaken Baby Syndrome Causes:
 Infants have very weak neck muscles and large and heavy
heads in proportion to their bodies. In addition, because
the infant brain is immature and needs room to grow, there
is naturally a virtual space between the skull and brain to
allow for development. Violently shaking an infant can
cause the brain to move within the skull, resulting in
cerebral contusions (bruising of brain tissue) and shearing
(tearing) of blood vessels. Most commonly, the injuries
associated with shaken baby syndrome include bleeding
around the brain (subdural and subarachnoid
hemorrhages), bleeding in the eyes (retinal hemorrhages),
and spinal cord or neck injuries.
Shaken Baby Symptoms:
 Injuries may not be immediately noticeable.
 These symptoms are caused by the developing
increased pressure within the brain (intracranial
pressure) caused by brain hemorrhages and swelling:
 Irritability
 Pale or blue skin
 Vomiting
 Lethargy
 Breathing difficulties
 Seizures
 Usually the result of glancing contact
 Typically affect small area
 Usually located on an extremity
 Accidental cigarette burn:
 irregular in shape
 Appear on parts of body not normally clothed
 Result from prolonged contact
 Usually symmetrical and deep
 Have well defined margins
 Located in suspicious areas (eg: buttocks)
 Deliberate cigarette burn:
 Regular shape
 Commonly found on palms, soles of feet, buttocks
 Children do not accidentally burn themselves in the
bathtub by playing with the taps or by putting their
hands in hot liquids in the kitchen.
 Affect a small area of skin
 Usually at extremities
 Irregular with slurred margins
 Typically cover large area
 Clearly delineated margin
degree burn
Weapon used:
(streptococcal infection: often mistaken for a cigarette burn)
Cigarette Burn Scars
Wound Scars
Other Symptoms of Child Abuse
Deterioration of health and personal hygiene
Failure to thrive
Aggressive behavior
Sexually inappropriate behavior
Regressive behavior
Fear of a particular person or place
Fear of abandonment
Sleep disturbances or nightmares
Withdrawal from family and friends
Poor performance in school
What a mess!
What a mess 2
Contact Me:
 C.A. Ennis blog:
 Email: [email protected]
 Twitter: @warriorwitch
 Facebook: Kerr Cuhulain