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How to Talk to Child Victims Hollie Strand Trainer/Forensic Interviewer Child Advocacy Center of the Black Hills – A program of Children’s Home Society.

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Presentation on theme: "How to Talk to Child Victims Hollie Strand Trainer/Forensic Interviewer Child Advocacy Center of the Black Hills – A program of Children’s Home Society."— Presentation transcript:

1 How to Talk to Child Victims Hollie Strand Trainer/Forensic Interviewer Child Advocacy Center of the Black Hills – A program of Children’s Home Society

2 Disclaimers Normal and extreme examples Graphic and uncomfortable Use of the word “He” Blunt and to the point Using child sexual assault as the frame of reference 2

3 David Finkelhor et el, “Violence, Abuse, and Crime Exposure in a National Sample of Children and Youth,” Pediatrics 124. no. 5 (2009): 3. Prevalence of Child Abuse Children and youth are the most criminally victimized age group. 60 percent of children ages birth-17 years old experienced victimization Many experienced more than one type of abuse Cases presented to DA, SAO, ASUA are seldom the first incident of abuse

4 US Department of Health and Human Services Child Sexual Abuse Research suggests that one in every three to four girls and one in six boys will be the victim of some type of sexual abuse/assault before age 18. Children with developmental delays and disabilities are 3 times more likely to be sexually abused. You can do the math…this translates to almost 15 Million children who will be sexually abused or assaulted over the next 18 years!

5 Recognizing Child Sexual Abuse Signs of Sexual Abuse Reports nightmares or bedwetting Regression in behaviors already mastered Experiences a sudden change in appetite Demonstrates bizarre, sophisticated, or unusual sexual knowledge or behavior U.S. Department of Health and Human Services/One With Courage

6 Recognizing Child Sexual Abuse Becomes pregnant or contracts a venereal disease, particularly if under age 14 Runs away/Fear of going home Risk-taking behaviors Sexualized behaviors Change in school performance U.S. Department of Health and Human Services/One With Courage

7 Difficulties with Prosecuting Child Sexual Abuse Cases No evidence No medical findings No witnesses Family Affairs Child testimony He said/ She said case

8 Difficulties with Prosecuting Child Sexual Abuse Cases Lack of cooperation among agencies Poor report writing Poor court room testimony Lack of confession/corroboration Untrained prosecutors Unwilling prosecutors Uneducated juries

9 Stranger Danger???? Relationship to victims 1. Father/birth 2. Friend/Friend of the family/Other known person 3. Mother's boyfriend 4. Brother (birth & step) 5. Cousin 6. Uncle 7. Step-father 8. Grandfather

10 Grooming Tactics used for grooming Measuring Pornography/Nudity Body safety dialog Accidents Bathrooms

11 Grooming Tactics of grooming (cont) Picking children less likely to tell Threatening Defining abuse for child Child’s fault Non-hurtful touches

12 Child Sexual Abuse: A Review of the Literature, THE JOHN JAY COLLEGE RESEARCH TEAM Talking to Children About Abuse Disclosure in NOT an event, it is a process Types of disclosures Purposeful Accidental Prompted Piecemeal disclosure Fantastic statements

13 Child Sexual Abuse Accommodation Syndrome Secrecy Helplessness Entrapment/Accommodation Delayed, conflicted and unconvincing disclosures Recantation Dr. Roland Summit 1983

14 14 Child Development Determines What Children Can Tell Us Important concepts to know when questioning children “The trip to Disney Land” 3-5 year olds are most suggestible 10 and older less suggestible Rules in the interview I don’t know Same question Correct me Ask a better question

15 15 Child Development Determines What Children Can Tell Us Important concepts to know when questioning children Promise to tell the truth Leading and suggestive questions Always given another option Exploring for coaching Time concepts Multiple events

16 Child Advocacy Centers Child Advocacy Centers were created to provide a coordinated response to child abuse investigations Child Advocacy Centers provide services as part of an open investigation

17 17 Role of CAC Forensic Interviews Medical Evaluation Advocacy Court Testimony Training Assist MDT partners with questioning children

18 Things to Consider when Questioning Children “Any” vs. “Some” Frame very question No pronouns Help the child understand the purpose of the questions Scaffold your questions “Feel like”, “look like”, “taste like” “sound like”

19 Things to Consider when Questioning Children Use the words the child used in FI Exact words trigger their memories Children think all adults know everything If a child is hesitant, ask the child what they need to feel more comfortable Get creative, work with team

20 Considerations in CA Cases FI is evidence Child’s behavior is evidence Child’s perception is everything Expect no medical, no physical evidence and no witnesses Interviewing for prosecution should be delicately

21 Considerations in CA Cases Staffing cases CACs work for their MDT Educate professionals Educate community

22 Conclusion Child cases are TOUGH cases Bad questions = unpredictable and unreliable responses Pride and ego have no place in these cases Whoever is questioning the child needs to understand these dynamics MDT discussion and collaboration is vital to success

23 Questions??? Hollie Strand Thank you and God Bless!!!


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