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Investigating suspected abuse of a child

The Forensic Psychology Center for Children and Adolescents investigates suspected abuse in children in cases where the police has made a request for executive assistance.

Criminal and judicial process in suspected abuse of children

We have gathered information on the different stages of the criminal and judicial process and on the supervision of the child’s interests.

Period of evaluation at a Forensic Psychology Unit for Children and Adolescents

In the Forensic Psychology Unit for Children and Adolescents, we only act upon requests for executive assistance from the police.

Our unit investigates assault and sexual offences suspected of targeting a child or adolescents.  The investigations are part of the preliminary investigation and they are conducted on the basis of a request for executive assistance from the police, prosecutor, or the court. Our activities are guided by the Act on Organising the Investigation of Sexual and Assault Offences against Children. We serve the area of the HUS hospital district and specific catchment areas (Kymsote, Eksote and the Päijät-Häme Joint Authority for Health and Wellbeing).

We also provide advice and guidance to the authorities by telephone on suspicions of abuse of children or adolescents. We provide training and consultation to our stakeholders (e.g. police, public prosecution service, social and health care services, early childhood education and care, and student welfare).

Forensic Psychology Center for Children and Adolescents

Medical examination in suspected abuse of a child

If necessary, at the request of the police, the physician will carry out examinations as part of the preliminary investigation to establish any physical injuries.

As a rule, investigations related to suspected abuse are conducted in specialist medical care. The police and the health care authorities will assess the urgency with which a medical examination should be conducted. In general, the examination must be carried out as soon as possible after the incident. The aim is to conduct the examination during office hours whenever possible.

An examination conducted outside of office hours is required when injuries require swift medical evaluation or treatment, for example, if a rape has occurred or if it is assumed that the perpetrator’s DNA can be found on the victim. In these situations, the child/adolescent should arrive for examination without washing or bathing and the clothes that were on during the incident should be taken along in a paper bag. In the case of young children, such situations are rare.

The examination of the child begins with a regular medical examination, during which, among other things, the physician listens to the child’s heart and lungs, palpates the abdomen, and examines inside the mouth. The child is examined “from head to toe” so that nothing important remains undetected. Examination of the genitals of a small child differs from that of an adolescent or an adult in such a way that an external examination is usually sufficient in children. A gynecological internal examination is rarely needed with young children. The aim of the examination is to make the child feel as safe and calm as possible. The examination will not be conducted with force.

It is important that any injuries to the child are carefully examined and recorded. Photographs, sometimes also blood samples, urine samples and other necessary samples may be taken in connection with the examination. Sometimes the examination and the conversation that took place during it are recorded. The physician will prepare a statement to the police on the examination they have carried out.


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