Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology

, Volume 33, Issue 3, pp 215–226 | Cite as

Assessing the Psychological Well-being and Coping Mechanisms of Law Enforcement Investigators vs. Digital Forensic Examiners of Child Pornography Investigations

  • Kathryn C. Seigfried-SpellarEmail author


Previous research indicates law enforcement investigators and digital forensic examiners working child exploitation cases are at an increased risk for experiencing psychological distress; however, the roles of digital forensic examiners and investigators often overlap substantially when working child pornography cases. Thus, the current study was the first to compare the psychological well-being, job satisfaction, coping mechanisms, and attitudes toward mental health services for individuals working as either digital forensic examiners and/or investigators of child pornography cases. Law enforcement officers were solicited from the Internet Crimes Against Children task force listserv, and based on their current self-reported duties, 20 were classified as digital forensic examiners-only, 71 as investigators-only, and 38 as both digital forensic examiners and investigators of cases involving Internet child pornography. Results showed significant differences between groups; individuals performing both duties scored significantly higher on secondary traumatic stress, higher on feelings of worthlessness, and lower on concentration compared to digital forensic examiners-only. Individuals performing both duties also reported significantly lower scores on job satisfaction compared to investigators-only. Finally, individuals working both duties were significantly more likely to know someone who sought counseling as a result of work-related stress. The study’s mental health implications and future research suggestions are discussed.


Psychological well-being Secondary traumatic stress Internet crimes against children Digital forensics Child pornography 


Funding Information

This project was funded through an Internet grant, College Academy of Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity (CARSCA), at The University of Alabama.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Ethical Statement

This manuscript is currently not under review or publication consideration by any other Journal. A version of the abstract of this paper was presented at the American Academy of Forensic Sciences 2017 Annual Scientific Meeting in New Orleans, LA. All data has been accurately portrayed. This study received IRB approval at The University of Alabama, which included informed consent.

Conflict of Interest

The author declares that she has no conflicts of interests.


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Copyright information

© Society for Police and Criminal Psychology 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Computer and Information TechnologyPurdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA

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