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Child Abuse: Munchausen’s Syndrome By Proxy

By Kathryn A. Hanon

Investigator Orlando, Florida, Police Department

This article originally appeared in the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, December 1991.

The range of investigations for modern day law enforcement officers is unparalleled in the history of criminology. Investigators must use innovative techniques in order to solve today’s more sophisticated, bizarre criminal acts.

For example, cases of an obscure form of child abuse–Munchhausen’s┬áSyndrome by Proxy (MSBP)-are being seen more and more frequently. MSBP is a form of child abuse that involves long-term physical abuse, usually by a parent.

However, in order to conduct MSBP investigations effectively, it is necessary to understand the complexity of the disorder and the unorthodox investigative procedures that may be necessary to prosecute the case successfully. This article discusses the disorder and how officers should approach the investigation of this crime. Continue reading