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Psychological Stress and Coping Strategies among Child Pornography Police Investigators: A Qualitative Analysis


Wössner,  Gunda
Criminology, Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law, Max Planck Society;

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Wössner, G., & Graf, J. (2016). Psychological Stress and Coping Strategies among Child Pornography Police Investigators: A Qualitative Analysis.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0002-C58C-2
Police officers face a multitude of on-the-job dangers and stressful situations. Although numerous publications exist on the psychosocial burdens experienced by police officers in general, very few studies have thus far assessed how the investigation of child pornography affects the officers involved. Accordingly, this study examines the extent to which police officers whose working hours are characterized by the investigation of child pornography
are personally affected. Furthermore, it also considers coping strategies that may relieve psychological stress. Given the lack of information available, qualitative interviews were selected as the most suitable methodological approach. The results demonstrate that not only the content of the child pornographic material, but also the massive data volumes involved and the confrontation with all manner of other deviant material, can be particularly onerous. Coping strategies can be divided into workplace (on-the-job) strategies (e.g., developing certain viewing strategies) and leisure time strategies (e.g., sport). From an organizational point of view, the interviewees felt a lack of support and respect among their supervisors for the work they are doing. The results have significant implications for police leadership culture and suggest that both more research and better training and care concepts are required.