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Interviewing Children

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Presentation on theme: "Interviewing Children"— Presentation transcript:

1 Interviewing Children
Chapter 7 7-1

2 The Child Interview Criminal investigators must determine what happened Need disclosure from the child Reliability will be an issue Social Service investigators determine if something happened which requires child protection

3 Limitations on Reporting by Age
Infancy: The first two years Rely on medical documentation Early Childhood: Ages 2 to 6 Short attention span Time and space are difficult concepts Only in rare instances should the child be interviewed more than ½ hour Middle Childhood: Ages 7 to 12 Language is well developed Play remains primary expression Emotion language possible Can distinguish fiction versus reality

4 Field Assessment: a First Responder Situation
Explain the reason for the visit to the caretaker The child may need to be visually examined for bruises and marks Secure emergency medical attention if needed Interview the child outside of the presence of the caretaker

5 Step I: Risk Assessment
Assessing the present and future risk of harm to a child is a legal requirement in all states The standard of proof for reporting suspected abuse or neglect is mere suspicion Is there any reason to believe that the child has been abused, neglected, or witnessed abuse towards a parent or sibling? Has the child received a suspicious injury? Are there weapons or ammunition that are accessible to this child? Does the primary caretaker abuse alcohol or drugs? Is the child depressed or suffering from lack of medical attention?

6 Step 2: Models for Evaluating Abuse
Child Interview Model Parent-Child Interaction Model Multidisciplinary Team Approach Choice of evaluation model is based on the goals of the interview

7 Child Interview Model Child interview is central for abuse determination Premise: children rarely make false allegations

8 Parent-Child Interaction Model
Determination is based on expected behaviors between offending and non-offending parent and their offspring Should not be used for criminal complaint

9 Multidisciplinary Team Approach
Input from child professionals for abuse determination Criminal investigator must have active participation

10 Step 3: Preliminary Considerations Checklist
Determine the Reason for questioning Determine the Purpose of the questioning Identify the Population Identify the Interviewer The interview reason determines its length The purpose of the interview determines the model to be used The interview population determines the limitations of the interviewee The choice of interviewer depends on the population

11 Step 4: Remain Neutral What, if any, crime occurred?
Who is the perpetrator? Where did it occur? When did it occur? Against who did it occur? How was it perpetrated? Have crime elements been satisfied? Has an offender been identified? Has the location been specified? Has the time frame been determined? Has the victim been identified? Have the specifics been articulated?

12 Forensic Child Interviewing
Based on the multidisciplinary approach A traditional structured format Phase I: Caretaker Instructions Phase II: Evaluation Phase III: Child Preparation Phase IV: Establish Rapport Phase V: Interview

13 Forensic Child Interviewing Phase I: Caretaker Instructions
Prior to meeting with the child, instructions should be provided to the caretaker Obtain necessary release forms

14 Forensic Child Interviewing Phase II: Evaluation
Using the preliminary considerations checklist (slide 7), conduct an evaluation of the upcoming interview

15 Forensic Child Interviewing Phase III: Prepare the Child
Use the Comprehensive Monitoring (CM) Preparation Model

16 Comprehensive Monitoring (CM) Preparation Model
Prior to the interview this is a practice session with the child interviewee conducted by a non-interviewing person Practice identifying instances of non-comprehension Practice responding with verbalizations that indicate lack of understanding Increase the interviewee awareness of the negative consequences of responding to questions not fully understood

17 Forensic Child Interviewing Phase IV: Establish Rapport
Establish rapport through age appropriate language

18 Forensic Child Interviewing Phase V: Conduct the Interview
Establish that the child knows the difference between the truth and a lie Don’t use “cop talk” Avoid the use of leading questions

19 Practice Interview NIJ found that children who experienced a practice cognitive interview about an unrelated event gave the most complete reports about the target event A practice interview is highly recommended but not required

20 Basics of the Child Cognitive Interview 3 Phase Procedure
Adapted from the adult version Step 1 focuses on developing rapport Step 2 involves techniques designed to elicit from the child as complete a narrative account of the crime as possible Step 3 involves the use of additional memory-jogging techniques

21 Step 1: Rapport and Preparation
Develop rapport with the child in accordance with recommended guidelines Prepare child for the interviewer's questions through a set of four instructions

22 Rapport Development Do not ask child’s name — “You must be Mary. My name is Bob.” Ask simple questions about the child’s world and provide information about yourself. Do not ask questions that could be regarded as coercive — “Do you want to be my friend?” Empathize with a nervous child’s feelings. Use positive, open-ended questions likely to promote conversation — “What are your favorite TV shows?”

23 Prepare the Child with Four Instructions
Give the child permission: Not to know all of the answers! There may be some questions that you don’t know the answers to, that’s ok. Not to answer if they don’t want to! You don’t have to answer, just tell me. Have them ask what you mean if they don’t understand! If you do not know what I mean, ask me to say it in new words. Answer the same for repeat questions! I may forget that I already asked you a question, you don’t have to change your answer.

24 Step 2: Narrative Report
This step is the most important! In the most recent version of cognitive interviewing these are the only two mnemonics used Reconstruct the circumstances mnemonic Be complete, report everything mnemonic

25 Interviewer Guidelines for Reconstruct the Circumstances Mnemonic
Reconstruct circumstances. To keep the child grounded in reality and minimize fantasy the interviewer must avoid such terms as “pretend” or “imagine.” Instead, instruct the child to “picture that time when … as if you were there right now. Think about what it was like there. Tell me out loud. Were there any smells there? Was it dark or light? Picture any other people who were there. What things were there? How were you feeling when you were there? Who else was there?”

26 Interviewer Guidelines for Report Everything Mnemonic
Be complete/report everything. Instruct the child to start at the beginning and tell everything that happened, from the beginning to the middle, to the end. Tell everything you remember, even little parts that you don’t think are important. Sometimes people leave out little things because they think little things are not important. Tell me everything that happened.

27 Suggestions for Step 2 Don’t interrupt while the child is talking.
If needed, prompt in a neutral way, “and then what happened”. Take notes sparingly; ask for clarification when the child is finished. Speak slowly so the child will do so also. Use open-ended questions for clarification.

28 Step 3: Changing the Order and Perspective Mnemonic
Use memory-jogging techniques to obtain new information Change the order mnemonic Change the perspective mnemonic

29 Memory-jogging Techniques
Backward-order recall Alphabet search Speech characteristics Conversation New perspective

30 Backward-order Recall
Ask the child to recall events in backward order, from the end of the incident to the beginning. Prepare the child for the backwards technique before asked by prompting the child “what happened right before that?”

31 Alphabet Search If a child believes that a name may have been mentioned during the incident, ask the child to go through the alphabet as an aid to recalling the first letter of the name

32 Speech Characteristics
Probe for speech traits. Did a voice remind the child of another’s? If so, why and what was unusual about the voice?

33 Conversation How did the child feel about what was said?
Unusual words or phrases?

34 New Perspective Use this technique only after the child seems to have exhausted his or her memory of the event. Ask the child to recall the incident from the perspective of someone else present. “Put yourself in the body of … and tell me what you would have seen or heard if you had been that person?” Ask the child to recount the incident from a different perspective, such as through the eyes of someone else who was present, or through the eyes of an inanimate object, such as a stuffed animal that was present. It might be upsetting to the child.

35 Does the Technique Work? Tested by NIJ on 3rd and 6th Graders
Memory recall improved by 45 percent with cognitive method Older children recalled significantly more facts than the younger children 3rd graders did not make more recall errors than 6th graders When the backwards order technique was used, it elicited new information 44 percent of the time

36 Positive Interviewers
Appeared to develop rapport effectively, showed interest in what the children were saying, maintained a high level of attention, and generated expanded responses through open-ended questions They produced the most information and had the highest accuracy rate of 90 percent

37 The Child Reporter Accuracy Memory and fantasy
Account may be incomplete If leading questions are asked inaccurate responses may occur Embarrassing or humiliating events may be difficult to express Memory and fantasy Investigate for corroborating evidence Avoid terms such as pretend or imagine

38 The Child Victim Use tools to assist the child in expression
Crayons, drawing, or dolls Allow the child to name and explain any drawings without prompting

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