The Truth About Interviewing Victims of Child Abuse (Part 3)

When CPS workers and forensic interviewers “share” info before an interview, the results are skewed!


In the previous segment we discussed some of the issues that plague forensic interviewers during interrogation sessions with children. These include the intimidating nature of police stations, cops in uniform when they are the interviewers, and the danger of openly recording the session. In this next piece we’ll be talking about confirmatory bias, which can often slant an interviewer’s perspective of the collected data.


Confirmatory bias leads to flawed data!

Confirmatory bias means people tend to see what they expect to see. In other words, if an interviewer has been told by a colleague (before they interviewed the alleged child victim) that the child being questioned was badly abused by a particular parent, does that affects the outcome? Well, that interviewer tends to go into the interview expecting to uncover specific evidence of abuse by the named parent.


The problem with this is that the interviewer could become a “validator” rather than a neutral interviewer. This means their role is viewed as being someone who’ll collect evidence that supports a presupposed story.  Then the entire purpose of the forensic interview is lost.


A forensic interview is supposed to be conducted with the intention of discovering the truth. It is not done with the intention of looking for evidence that supports the current theory, or the expectations of the police or CPS workers. For this reason, it’s critical that the interview be conducted by someone who has little to no prior knowledge of the allegations.


An interviewer with expectations is predisposed to expect certain outcomes

By conducting an interview where the interviewer is able to enter the room with no expectations, no prior knowledge of events, and no biases, the outcome is much more likely to be factual. This, however, is often not the case.


Forensic interviewers often have friendly relationships with the social workers, CPS workers and police officers involved in these cases. After all, these people see each other regularly and interact often in a work environment.  Therefore, they’re often subject to well intentioned “sharing” of information, tendencies and bias.


A coworker who just “fills you in on the background” so that you “know what you’re getting into” can do far more harm than good when the person they’re filling in is the forensic investigator. Contamination of the evidence gathered makes the evidence highly suspect.


Chain of custody is critical with ALL evidence collected.

This is an absolute rule in police work. It is why the “chain of custody” is so critical to evidence in an investigation. In the same way, the verbal evidence collected from a child needs to be treated with the same care and caution. Otherwise it could become contaminated.


In the next segment we will be discussing the issues that arise when the agenda of the prosecution becomes the driving force behind the evidence collection. That kind of mentality can result in tainted information and ultimately, false allegations.


Until then, if you or a loved one have been accused of abusing or neglecting a child in Michigan, or have been contacted by CPS, call The Kronzek Firm immediately at 866 766 5245. You need expert help immediately! Don’t wait to save your family. Don’t think the truth will prevail. Contact us now and discuss your case with an experienced child abuse defense attorney. We are available to help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week .


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