Each week, the Austin Police Department’s child abuse unit is investigating hundreds of reports of physical or sexual abuse of children and teenagers, says the Austin American-Statesman. Ex-child abuse Detective Cliff Rogers says they talk too often to children “not about the monster under the bed, but the monster in the house.” The men and women of the unit are a special group of 14 detectives who must be mentally prepared to tackle graphic and chilling material day after day as they investigate child exploitation, neglect, and Internet crimes.
They work with children who are sometimes so traumatized they cannot even talk about what happened to them. Then, detectives talk to suspects, who come up with rationalizations for their behavior and sometimes tell investigators that their child victims were being seductive. Death and blood are hard to handle, but the innocence of children makes investigating child abuse hardest. It is not work for the faint of heart, Rogers said: “Say you get called in the middle of the night because you’re on call and there’s a baby with burns all over his legs up to where the socks cover the skin. That stays with you.” The day starts out with detectives sifting through voice mails left by Child Protective Services investigators or family members reporting abuse. Each detective works about 15 cases a week.