Interpretation Of Child Sexual Abuse Criminology Essay

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Abstract-The victims body is the most important source of physical evidence in sexual abuse case. Medical personnel act as an agent of the police investigation in forensic examination. A medical professional will collect the forensic evidence in a sexual assault case, both because of the intimate nature of this evidence and because a great deal of special expertise is required to conduct a thorough, meaningful examination. Therefore, in child sexual abuse cases, uncertainties regarding of various context in decision making can lead to failure of successful investigation. Various types of evidence data need to be analyzed and interpreted to come out a reliable and precise report. This research aimed to present a solution of decision making in child sexual abuse forensic field through intelligent decision support system based on proposed framework and model.

Keywords-child sexual abuse; forensic examination; medical and forensic evidence; decision making


Child sexual abuse has raised attention from the worldwide concern. Trauma, psychology problem and medical impact can last through adulthood in the child victim even though the injury from the assault can completely heal in time. A forensic interview will be done on suspected victim to document suspicion of abuse by a medical examiner through normal genital and anal examination [1]. If suspicion of sexual abuse arises every child should be physically examined. Basically the necessity of such investigation (at an early stage) must be made clear to law enforcement agencies and to the doctors [2].

In child sexual abuse cases, medical examiner acts as an agent of the police investigation in forensic examination. During the examination, various findings such as medical history, physical findings and the search for and/or results from trace evidence are to be evaluated. The main objectives to any examination are determining the anatomical findings and the microbiological findings and collecting forensic evidence, is important. Those examinations are conducted through separate procedure. Forensic samples must follow chain of evidence procedures, which are of no relevance to medical specimens [3]. This condition has lead to lack of data collaborative and integration among those sources.

Decision making is a critical process that must be done in child sexual abuse cases because the early decision will effects a whole investigation. Meanwhile, forensic data has an important role in crime analysis which can be retrieved from various sources. Three forensically important issues derive from the medical history: accuracy of information contained in the history, interviewing issues raised by the history, and proper elicitation and preservation of verbal evidence of abuse [4].

Forensic scientist has a view that forensic science is only a small application of science to law oriented questions and this view is excluding discussion of a more rewarding and useful role for forensic science. Even though many efforts has been declared to change the view, the progress is still slow and restricted to connect forensic science with investigative efforts [5]. Part of the investigator's work is to collect and interpret data while both tasks are related to each other. This is because the observation of the available data can suggest the treatment to be applied and the action to be taken [6]. In child sexual abuse cases, the examiner not only need to do a medical and physical examination, they also should decide what type of treatment that victim must undergo after injury.

Formulation of hypothetical crime scenarios that can explain the available data is important in determining of methodologies for evaluating physical evidence in major crime investigation and for determining effective strategies to proceed with the investigation [7]. Thus, the formulation process can be assisted by computerized tool by applying some approaches such as Bayesian networks (commonly used in forensic science), likelihood ratios, qualitative probabilistic networks and so on. Computerized tool development to aid the crime analysis is in order to give a great focus in forensic science because this field has an important role in crime analysis [6]. In order to make it possible, expert system and artificial intelligence technologies have a significant role to play in the development of tools to support forensic science operation. Intelligent agents appear in an increasing number of DSS applications, and intelligent agents' properties can facilitate active decision making. The agent technology is an appropriate choice for actively facilitating problem-solving activities while utilizing the powerful capabilities of the DSS [8]. As humans are relatively poor at hypothetical reasoning, decision support systems (DSSs) may provide a useful means of assisting human investigators in constructing plausible scenarios and analysing them objectively [7]. Therefore, this research is proposed to develop interpretation of child sexual abuse evidence modeling through an Intelligent Decision Support System.

Research background

Based on literature, a review has been done by covering main topics such as decision support system, child sexual abuse and forensic science.

Decision support system

Decision Support System (DSS) is computer-mediated tools that assist managerial decision making by presenting information and interpretations for various alternatives. Such systems can help the decision makers to make more effective and efficient decisions [9].

In forensic investigation, human emotion also gives an effect on decision making during the investigation process. However, decision support system is very effective in analyzing information systematically and objectively. They can utilize large group of expert knowledge and the DSS unaffected by institutional or emotional bias [7].

While IDSS (Intelligent Decision Support Systems) have been receiving increasing attention from the DSS research community by incorporating knowledge-based techniques to provide intelligent and active behavior, the state-of-the-art IDSS architecture provides little support for incorporating novel technologies that serve useful DSS information, such as the results from the KDD community [9].

Intelligent Decision Support Systems (IDSSs) are interactive computer-based systems that use data, expert knowledge and models for supporting DMs in organisations to solve semi-structured problems by incorporating artificial intelligence techniques. They draw on ideas from diverse disciplines such as decision analysis, artificial intelligence, knowledge-based systems and systems engineering [10].

Intelligent Decision Support Systems (IDSSs) use expert systems technology to enhance the capabilities of decision makers (DMs) in understanding a decision problem and selecting a sound alternative [10].

Intelligent DSSs (IDSSs), incorporating knowledge-based methodology, are designed to aid the decision-making process through a set of recommendations reflecting domain expertise. IDSSs are able to provide services to users and they try to satisfy the user's requirements through interaction, cooperation, and negotiation. IDSSs also offer tremendous potential in support of well-defined task such as data conversion, information filtering, and data mining, as well as supporting ill-structured tasks in dynamic cooperation [11].

Child sexual abuse

The definition of 'child sexual abuse' differs among researchers according to the context of age difference between the perpetrator and the victim, the age used to define childhood and type of sexual abuse [12]. Overall, child sexual abuse gives a great negative impact to the children during their childhood and future adulthood in physical, emotional and psychological context. Studies found that child victim of sexual abuse face the greatest trauma in life than other type of child abuse types [13]. Table 1 shows the definition and impact of child sexual abuse from researchers.

Table 1: Types of Child Abuse and Signs




Coffey, 1996 [14]

Any sexual activity involving physical contact that occurred before the age of 16 (i.e., 15 or under) with either a perpetrator who was at least 5 years older than the respondent at the time or with a perpetrator who was not 5 years older but physically forced the respondent to engage in the sexual activity.

Feelings of both stigma and self-blame in adulthood are particularly affected by the level of sexual activity involved in the abusive experience.

Lanktree, 1991 [15]

Attempted suicide, made more suicide attempts, presented with a greater numbers of psychological symptoms, and had a greater likelihood of being assigned a diagnosis of major depression

Gibson, 2001 [16]

Sexual experiences were considered child sexual abuse in this study if they (1) occurred before age 14, and (2) involved either a 5 year age difference or forced sexual activity, regardless of the other person's age.

The victims is tends to use disengagement methods of coping their childhood experience.

Pereda, 2009 [12]

Contact and non-contact sexual experiences between a person under 18 years of age and an adult or other person at least 5 years older; or sexual experiences resulting from coercion, no matter what the age of the other person.

Girardet, 2002 [17]

Sexual activity a child engages in that the child cannot comprehend, cannot give consent to, is not developmentally prepared for, or that violates the law or societal taboos.

Medical and Forensic Evidence of Child Sexual Abuse Cases

Forensic science is generally defined as the application of science to address questions related to the law. Too often, this view restricts the contribution of science to one single process which eventually aims at bringing individuals to court while minimising risk of miscarriage of justice [5].

There are two main processes in investigating child sexual abuse case which are physical or forensic examination which is been done by medical or forensic examiner and analyzing the forensic evidence by forensic scientist.

In child sexual abuse cases, skillful forensic interviews are important to ensure the protection of innocent individuals and the conviction of perpetrators. Skillful forensic interviews in child sexual abuse cases are extremely important in ensuring that victims and falsely accused individuals are protected and perpetrators are convicted [18]. Medical and physical examination must be done onto the victims to identify and collect any signs of sexual abuse and forensic evidence. Effective collection of evidence is very important to prosecute sex offender successfully.

Medical examination of sexually abused children or adolescents must be undertaken in specialized centers by trained physicians. [19] stated that medical examination has three aims:

To identify clinical evidence of genital or extragenital lesions;

To diagnose sexually transmitted infections or pregnancy; and

To evaluate the needs for medical care, psychological support, and social investigation.

Meanwhile, the procedure of the forensic examination should include these processes:

Obtaining the medical history of the victim (through interview)

Documenting exam findings and evidence

Collecting, handling and preserving evidence

Interpreting and analyzing findings (post exam)

Presenting findings and providing factual and expert opinion related to the exam and evidence collection.

Decision Making Based on Forensic and Medical Evidence of Child Sexual Abuse Cases

Forensic and medical evidence which is found through physical examination on victims will be very important in the investigation and prosecution of sexual assault because the data of evidence from various sources will be very beneficial in supporting the case investigation. Meanwhile, decision making skill is needed among medical or forensic examiner because they should interpret the data and develop valuable knowledge that can help the investigation.

Type of decisions that should be made by the medical or forensic examiner of child sexual abuse cases:

Whether the child need the medical/physical examination or not.

The child is indeed sexually abused or not during diagnose (the examination result can be false positive).

Whether the case should be reported as sexual abuse case or not.

Researches of Forensic Science and Crimes Evidence Interpretation

A review has been done about existing and current research and practice regarding this field. Although the literature review is beyond the scope of this research, this section presents a brief overview of related work regarding forensic science and crimes evidence interpretations as shown in Table 2.

Table 2: Related work of forensic science and crime evidence interpretation





Biedermann, 2008 [20]

Analyze the process of forensic identification from a decision theoretic point of view


A decision theoretic conceptualization of forensic identification allows the content and structure of arguments to be examined from a reasonably distinct perspective and common fallacious interpretations to be avoided

Buckleton, 2006 [21]

Reviews some current methods for the interpretationof evidence and discusses previously identified shortcomings in them

Likelihood ratios

Full Bayesian

Extended likelihood ratios

Limitations of the restriction to two hypotheses associated with the likelihood ratio approach.

Suggests extended likelihood ratio approach.

Taroni, 2004 [22]

Explain some guiding considerations for elicitation of appropriate structures for Bayesian Networks.

Bayesian networks

The degree of variability in the qualitative and quantitative specification of Bayesian networks can be taken as an indicator of their strength and sensitivity in representing uncertain domain knowledge.

Keppens and Schafer, 2006 [7]

Introduces a novel knowledge driven methodology for crime scenario construction and it presents a decision support system based on it

Abductive diagnosis.

Hypothetico-deductive investigative methodology.


This research has introduced a novel type of decision support system for crime investigation, one capable of generating hypothetical crime scenarios from evidence and supporting the creation of evidence collection strategies.

Biedermann and Taroni, 2006 [23]

To draw attention to the point that the availability of hard numerical data is not a necessary requirement for using BNs in forensic science.

Bayesian networks

Qualitative probabilistic networks (QPNs)

Sensitivity analyses

Both QPNs and sensitivity analyses permit:

Work in contexts with lack of numerical data

Reach and defend conclusions in a way that agrees with the laws of probability theory

Address a wide range of sources of uncertainty that effect the coherent evaluation of scientific evidence

Research Objective

This research get on the following objectives:

To propose a framework for Interpreting and Analysing Child Sexual Abuse Evidentiary Findings.

To support decision making in medical and forensic findings of child sexual abuse cases by designing and developing an interpreting and analyzing model.

To test and evaluate the framework through the developed model prototype.

Research Methodology

This research method is conducted by reviewing the case study to formulate the research problem. From the problem definition, solutions to the problem are developed by analyzing the requirement. Thus, this research proposes to develop a model-based decision support system by using intelligent agent to analyze and interpret the compiled data. Figure 1 shows the overall system which consists of end-user, interface, engine for analyzing and interpreting child sexual abuse evidentiary findings, database and model base.

The end-user will be the medical or forensic examiner and they can manipulate the system via user interface. Database will consists of evidence data which are stand by victim's history, medical finding, diagnosis test and forensic findings. Interpreting and analyzing modeling will compute the engine for analyzing and interpreting the evidentiary findings. The related modules in the engine are evidences data compiling, data acquisition, variables definition, distinguish analysis, comparative analysis and tendency decision.


Engine for Analyzing and Interpreting Child Sexual Abuse Evidentiary Findings

Evidences data compiling

Model base


End- User

Comparative analysis

Data acquisition

Variables definition

Distinguish analysis

Tendency decision

Figure 1: Summary of overall system


The expected outcome from this study is a new framework for interpreting and analyzing child sexual abuse crime cases that can be customized for other crime type analysis and application. The developed framework will be evaluated by decision support system prototype that manipulates the model.

It is hope that the developed model for interpreting and analyzing child sexual abuse evidentiary findings can support the decision making process throughout the forensic and medical examination.