2 The Child InterviewCriminal investigators must determine what happenedNeed disclosure from the childReliability will be an issueSocial Service investigators determine if something happened which requires child protection
3 Limitations on Reporting by Age Infancy: The first two yearsRely on medical documentationEarly Childhood: Ages 2 to 6Short attention spanTime and space are difficult conceptsOnly in rare instances should the child be interviewed more than ½ hourMiddle Childhood: Ages 7 to 12Language is well developedPlay remains primary expressionEmotion language possibleCan distinguish fiction versus reality
4 Field Assessment: a First Responder Situation Explain the reason for the visit to the caretakerThe child may need to be visually examined for bruises and marksSecure emergency medical attention if neededInterview 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 statesThe standard of proof for reporting suspected abuse or neglect is mere suspicionIs 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 ModelParent-Child Interaction ModelMultidisciplinary Team ApproachChoice of evaluation model is based on the goals of the interview
7 Child Interview ModelChild interview is central for abuse determinationPremise: children rarely make false allegations
8 Parent-Child Interaction Model Determination is based on expected behaviors between offending and non-offending parent and their offspringShould not be used for criminal complaint
9 Multidisciplinary Team Approach Input from child professionals for abuse determinationCriminal investigator must have active participation
10 Step 3: Preliminary Considerations Checklist Determine the Reason for questioningDetermine the Purpose of the questioningIdentify the PopulationIdentify the InterviewerThe interview reason determines its lengthThe purpose of the interview determines the model to be usedThe interview population determines the limitations of the intervieweeThe 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 approachA traditional structured formatPhase I: Caretaker InstructionsPhase II: EvaluationPhase III: Child PreparationPhase IV: Establish RapportPhase V: Interview
13 Forensic Child Interviewing Phase I: Caretaker Instructions Prior to meeting with the child, instructions should be provided to the caretakerObtain 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 personPractice identifying instances of non-comprehensionPractice responding with verbalizations that indicate lack of understandingIncrease 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 lieDon’t use “cop talk”Avoid the use of leading questions
19 Practice InterviewNIJ found that children who experienced a practice cognitive interview about an unrelated event gave the most complete reports about the target eventA practice interview is highly recommended but not required
20 Basics of the Child Cognitive Interview 3 Phase Procedure Adapted from the adult versionStep 1 focuses on developing rapportStep 2 involves techniques designed to elicit from the child as complete a narrative account of the crime as possibleStep 3 involves the use of additional memory-jogging techniques
21 Step 1: Rapport and Preparation Develop rapport with the child in accordance with recommended guidelinesPrepare child for the interviewer's questions through a set of four instructions
22 Rapport DevelopmentDo 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 usedReconstruct the circumstances mnemonicBe 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 informationChange the order mnemonicChange the perspective mnemonic
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 SearchIf 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 PerspectiveUse 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 methodOlder children recalled significantly more facts than the younger children3rd graders did not make more recall errors than 6th gradersWhen 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 questionsThey produced the most information and had the highest accuracy rate of 90 percent
37 The Child Reporter Accuracy Memory and fantasy Account may be incompleteIf leading questions are asked inaccurate responses may occurEmbarrassing or humiliating events may be difficult to expressMemory and fantasyInvestigate for corroborating evidenceAvoid terms such as pretend or imagine
38 The Child Victim Use tools to assist the child in expression Crayons, drawing, or dollsAllow the child to name and explain any drawings without prompting