We might assume that, for law enforcement personnel, the specific job of viewing indecent images of children in the course of their work is so harrowing that it impacts negatively on their mental health. However, a recent study has found otherwise. Instead, the study demonstrated (like a similar earlier study from Canada, Burns et al., 2008) that that the average subjective wellbeing for Australian police investigators covering internet child exploitation (ICE) was above the adult normative range and with no distinct difference from the control group of officers who did not deal with this type of crime.

Participants were 139 current ICE investigators and the control group of 102 non-ICE investigators as well as 55,697 Australian adults who took part in Australian Unity Wellbeing surveys. Life satisfaction was measured in the three groups

The results highlighted:

  • The importance of organisational and informal social support
  • That current ICE investigators have a resilience in facing the material presented to them in the course of their work
  • That the investigators have a high level of community connectedness that may be as a result of their area of work which gives them a sense of personal responsibility as they defend the vulnerable in their society
  • That the investigators are achievement focused individuals which may be attributable to their involvement with colleagues, a group with unique skills and joint purpose
  • The importance of supervisors for such professionals to be informed and educated about the type of work, understand the importance of the well-being of their staff and allow a degree of autonomy
  • The strain felt by officers when lenient sentences are given and with the low level of convictions for this type of crime
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