When a concern arises that a child has endured abuse, a forensic interview is the best way to gather information pertaining to the allegation. A forensic interview is an objective, non-leading, legally defensible and age-appropriate, information-gathering process. Forensic interviews reduce trauma experienced by child victims by reducing the number of times they have to talk about what happened to them.
Unless a child is too young to talk, his or her involvement with HCCAC will begin with a Forensic Interview. The interview is conducted by someone trained in latest forensic interviewing techniques, child development and linguistics, and will take place in one of our age-appropriate interview rooms. The interview will be permanently recorded and observed by law enforcement or child protective services investigators who are part of the HCCAC multidisciplinary team. This allows investigators who are assigned to help your family ask the forensic interviewer additional questions that can clarify information and reduce the times a child will have to be interviewed. As a result, all members of the multidisciplinary team obtain the information needed to proceed on behalf of the child.
HCCAC employs three forensic interviewers who ask legally defensible questions in an objective, non-leading and developmentally-appropriate manner for the age of the child. Our interviewers attend multiple continuing education trainings each year to ensure that they remain current on the best practices and methods related to forensic investigations, child welfare, and child development.
what is a forensic interview?
what to expect
Children are put at ease by knowing what to expect. It is helpful to inform your child that someone wishes to talk with him or her about what was reported. It is important to reassure your child and give him or her permission to talk freely; however it is equally important not to rehearse with your child or tell your child what to say
what happens after the interview
At the end of the interview, the CPS investigator and/or law enforcement investigator will inform you about what to expect during the next stage of the investigative process. Additionally, A Family Advocate assigned to your case will contact you at a later date to follow-up with you, answering any outstanding questions you may have, and work with you to ensure that you and your child remain supported throughout the entire investigative process.
how should i react to my child after the interview?
- Follow their lead. If they don’t bring up the interview, you don’t need to talk about it.
- Be careful not to interrogate (quiz or question) your child about the interview or abuse. A child who has experienced abuse may not want to disclose the details of that abuse to a parent no matter how well intentioned that parent is. Any questions you have may be asked of your Family Advocate, the CPS investigator or law enforcement investigator.
- Do let your child know that talking with the interviewer was the right thing to do and acknowledge the courage it took to do so.
- It is very important that your child be allowed to express his/her feelings. Spending special time with your child may help them share his/her feelings and thoughts with you.
- Be calm and supportive. It may be difficult to listen to what your child has to say, but your child needs to talk to someone who will believe and support him or her. Don’t share your feelings of frustration or helplessness with your child thereby overwhelming them with your emotions. If you need support, please reach out to your Family Advocate or a trusted friend or family member.
- Do not lead your child to believe that the interview is the only part of the legal process in which they are involved. It is possible that your child will be interviewed again or asked to testify in court. Explain to your child (in an age-appropriate way) what the investigative (and possibly prosecution) process will entail. The professionals involved, and Advocacy Center Staff, can help you do this.