Objectivity

One of the strongest attributes you can possess when determining cause of a burn is objectivity. Remember to consider ALL of the possibilities when the question is: accidental or intentional.

Older children are more capable, knowledgeable, more coordinated and stronger. They can obviously climb, turn things on, and overall access things in and out of the house that they could not when they were new born or toddlers. When in doubt of a child’s abilities, check with their pediatrician rather than someone at the local hospital. That doctor will have more specific information for you and they have probably followed that child since birth.

When you are considering all possibilities, this would include the history presented by the caretaker that was present when the injury occurred. I always consider if the injury could have occurred in the same manner presented at the first medical or law enforcement contact. There will be times when medical professionals and your co-workers are suggesting that the history is inconsistent with the presenting injuries. Keep that information in mind, but you should still re- enact the history to rule out the possibility. It’s one thing to go with past experience; it’s another to consider the possibilities with each and every case.

Remember, anyone can be the suspect; parents, grand parents, siblings, neighbors, baby sitters, etc. Consider the capabilities of those care takers, especially siblings. Caretakers frequently accuse siblings of causing the injury, whether accidental or intentional. Satisfy yourself with a re-creation of every detail and then you can make your determination.

I once had a very serious case with a tiny toddler and the mother was accusing the almost three-year-old sibling sister. Even though medical professionals agreed it was possible the sibling could have been responsible, I did a full re- creation using my blue dye. Ultimately of the 12 reasons the injuries were INTENTIONAL, 7 of them were simply because of the strength, hand size, knowledge and coordination of that sibling. She simply was not capable of performing the acts necessary to cause the near fatal burns.

This is your investigation and that is what it is, an INVESTIGATION. You determine what happened and then decide what your next actions are. Do you protect, exonerate, monitor the future, involve other agencies, or?

For more on investigations of these suspicious cases, contact me from this site and I will assist you any way I can. Thanks for listening.