Hoping for the best but unprepared for the worst? Explorative analysis of police students’ encounter with child abuse investigation
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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- Scientific articles 
Original versionCogent Social Sciences. 2022, 8 (1), . 10.1080/23311886.2022.2127210
Child abuse investigation can include complex stressors increasing the risk of secondary trauma among police professionals. This study explores the preparedness of police students about to engage in child abuse investigation tasks during their recruit period. We did semi-structured interviews with 19 police students to explore the students’ expectations and resources they relied on to cope with stress. Through thematic analysis, five themes emerged: 1) a worthy challenge and a valuable experience; 2) absence of concern about the burdens of “a job to be done”; 3) “Gotta’ work it out!”—physical activity as the default coping mechanism; 4) seeking social support—the importance of talking to someone; 5) education on stress management is limited to operational stress. The results support increasing students’ preparedness for child abuse investigation through knowledge about potential risks, normal reaction to adverse situations, and a focus on effective coping strategies beyond physical activity. The results call for improved and more diverse stress management education in the police, with an emphasis on evidence based coping strategies and reducing stigma associated with mental health help seeking.
PublisherTaylor & Francis
JournalCogent Social Sciences
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