Dealing with the Unthinkable: a Study of the Cognitive and Emotional Stress of Adult and Child Homicide Investigations on Police Investigators

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Abstract

Although the death of a child is without doubt one of the most distressing events imaginable, when it occurs in suspicious circumstances, such as at the hand of a parent or close family member, its effects are often more acute and incomprehensible. This paper presents an exploratory study comparing the cognitive and emotional stressors experienced by police when investigating child and adult homicides. The results of an online survey questionnaire with 99 experienced UK police investigators are presented, with key differences found in the cognitive and emotional stress experienced depending on whether the victim is a child or an adult, key differences and similarities identified in the ways investigators deal and cope with adult and child homicide cases, with a tentative discussion of the implications for the well-being and training of police investigators provided.
LanguageEnglish
Pages251-262
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Police and Criminal Psychology
Volume32
Issue number3
Early online date5 Nov 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2017

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Homicide
Police
Psychological Stress
homicide
police
Research Personnel
online survey
family member
parents
Hand
well-being
death
questionnaire
event

Cite this

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title = "Dealing with the Unthinkable: a Study of the Cognitive and Emotional Stress of Adult and Child Homicide Investigations on Police Investigators",
abstract = "Although the death of a child is without doubt one of the most distressing events imaginable, when it occurs in suspicious circumstances, such as at the hand of a parent or close family member, its effects are often more acute and incomprehensible. This paper presents an exploratory study comparing the cognitive and emotional stressors experienced by police when investigating child and adult homicides. The results of an online survey questionnaire with 99 experienced UK police investigators are presented, with key differences found in the cognitive and emotional stress experienced depending on whether the victim is a child or an adult, key differences and similarities identified in the ways investigators deal and cope with adult and child homicide cases, with a tentative discussion of the implications for the well-being and training of police investigators provided.",
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AB - Although the death of a child is without doubt one of the most distressing events imaginable, when it occurs in suspicious circumstances, such as at the hand of a parent or close family member, its effects are often more acute and incomprehensible. This paper presents an exploratory study comparing the cognitive and emotional stressors experienced by police when investigating child and adult homicides. The results of an online survey questionnaire with 99 experienced UK police investigators are presented, with key differences found in the cognitive and emotional stress experienced depending on whether the victim is a child or an adult, key differences and similarities identified in the ways investigators deal and cope with adult and child homicide cases, with a tentative discussion of the implications for the well-being and training of police investigators provided.

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