Child Sexual Abuse Expert Witnesses On The Forensic Interview Analysis

In Child Sexual Abuse – Forensic Interview Analysis, child sexual abuse expert witnesses at Forensic Pediatrics Consultants – Child Abuse & Child Safety write:

The objective of a forensic interview in the context of child sexual abuse is to provide an objective measure to understand what a child potentially experienced. A forensic interview may be the tool utilized by protective and/or prosecuting authorities in a case of potential sexual abuse. Therefore, assuring the quality of the interview is an integral component to evaluating a potential case of abuse. A poor interview does not discount the possibility of sexual abuse. However, standard protocols exist to minimize the possibility of leading questions, and to assure as truthful and accurate information as possible.

Core components to forensic interview analysis include:

Documentation – Was the interview transcribed, audio-taped or videotape?

Number of interviews – Was the child interviewed before and how may that impact the forensic interview?

Types of Questions – Were there repetitive questions, either/or questions, and/or multiple questions that may lead to suggestive techniques?

Experience – Was the interviewer objectively and properly trained to conduct the interview?

Protocol – Were standard protocols utilized in the interview? These include:
• Building Rapport • Establish the Need to Tell the Truth • Explain to the child that it is fine not to know the answer to a question. It is fine to correct the interviewer.
• Start with general questions such as “Do you know why you are talking with me today?” Proceed, if necessary, to more specific questions such as “Has anything happened to you?” Drawings may help initiate disclosure.
• Elicit a Free Narrative • Pose General Questions • Pose Specific Questions if Necessary • Conclude the Interview

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