The Truth About Interviewing Victims of Child Abuse! (Part 1)

Interviewing children must be done differently to the way adults are interviewed.


The average person equates the word “forensic” with cop shows on TV – the “forensics team” being the people who talk at length about blood spatter and DNA and trace evidence. But while collecting and analyzing evidence from a crime scene is certainly “forensics”, the term actually includes much more than that.


By definition, “forensics” refers to scientific tests and techniques used as part of crime detection. So when you hear the term “forensic interviewing techniques” it may sound a little odd. After all, one can’t “interview” a blood droplet or a strand of hair the same way a person can interview another person. However the principle is exactly the same.


What is a forensic interviewer?

A forensic interviewer is someone who has been specifically trained to conduct interviews and oversee interviews conducted by others, specifically with regard to children. Children who have witnessed a crime or been the victim of a crime are often the only reliable sources of information about what actually took place. And this is where it gets tricky…


Interviewing children is completely unlike interviewing adults. Children bring an entirely different set of possible problems and complications to the table. For example, children are often eager to please, and will tell an interviewer what they think the adult wants to hear in an effort to gain their approval. This can distort information.


“Coaching” children to provide specific answers.

Another factor that has to be taken into consideration is the fact that children are sometimes “coached” in how they should answer questions asked by police, CPS workers, or other investigators. This can lead to incorrect information. So a forensic interviewer has to determine whether or not a child is fearful about an implicated person going to jail if they “tattle”, and what will happen to them and others they care about if this happens.


For this reason, while a forensic interviewer uses research-based protocols to conduct their interviews, they will often admit that working with children is as much an art as it is a science. It requires the use of intuition and trust, as well as a scientifically based approach.


Children must be handled differently to adults

Which adds an entirely new and complex aspect to the process that can often result in tainted data. Why? because an interviewer, in an effort to build a relationship with a child, or in an attempt to read between the lines of a frightened child’s testimony, completely misinterprets a critical piece of information. Or misses a vital clue that would otherwise undermine what appears to be a rock-solid recounting of events.


In the next segment we’re going to look at some of the challenges that forensic interviewers encounter during the interview process. We’ll also talk about how this can jeopardise the information they gather. Until then, if you or a loved one have been accused of abusing a child, or have been contacted by CPS, call The Kronzek Firm immediately at 866 766 5245. Our skilled CPS defense attorneys can help you protect your family and your future.


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