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Interviewing Children

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Interviewing Children

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  1. Interviewing Children a guide to accompany the training video for child welfare social workers and forensic interviewers

  2. Contents • What is Child Abuse? • Physical Abuse • Sexual Abuse • The Context of Child Abuse Investigations • Qualities of a Purposeful Child Abuse Interview • Initial Response of Child Welfare • Investigators Need to Know • Stages of a Child Abuse Interview • Summary • Preschool Interview • Additional resources

  3. Child Abuse Physical Abuse • Physical harm or injury • Non-accidental • Physical punishment may be deemed to be physical abuse • Single episode or repeated incidents • Use of objects • Slaps, blows to the head • Children under age three or over age twelve • Carried out in anger or frustration • Degrading, inhuman, harmful

  4. Child Abuse Sexual Abuse Includes a wide range of behaviours: • Oral sex • Fondling • Penetration • Exhibitionism • Sexual exploitation • May involve violence and emotional trauma

  5. Child Abuse Sexual Abuse • Children under age sixteen cannot consent to sexual activity. • Position of trust • Parent • Relative • Teacher • Coach • Employer

  6. The Context of Child Abuse Investigations • Child and Family Services • Police • Medical Practitioners • Child Advocacy Centres • Prosecution of Offenders • Treatment

  7. Qualities of a Purposeful Child Abuse Interview • Developmentally sensitive • Sensitive to child’s gender • Sensitive to child’s culture • Unbiased • Respectful

  8. Initial Response of Child Welfare • Check agency records • Follow agency investigation protocols • Consult with police services • Conduct joint interviews • Involve child advocacy centre

  9. Investigators need to know • Child Development • Dynamics of Child Abuse • Effects of Abuse on Children • Cultural Diversity • Children’s Disabilities • Legal Issues • Child Interviewing Techniques

  10. Stages of a Child Abuse Interview 1. Introduction 2. Explaining the Rules 3. Building Rapport 4. Telling the Truth 5. Topic of Concern 6. The Disclosure 7. Clarification 8. Conclusion

  11. 1. Introduction • Child’s school • Child’s home • Child and Family Services office • Hospital • Police station • Child advocacy centre

  12. 1. Introduction • Introduce yourself • Describe your role • Purpose of interview • Refer to child or youth by name • Listen openly and without judgment • Use a warm and expressive tone of voice • Be relaxed, attentive and natural

  13. 1. Introduction Video- Steven and Lindsay

  14. 1. Introduction • Use common everyday words • Use short sentences • Break long questions into shorter ones • Ask one question at a time

  15. 1. Introduction Video- Angeline and Shawenne

  16. 2. Explaining the Rules Power differences exist between children and adults such as • Teachers • Social Workers • Police Officers

  17. 2. Explaining the Rules • If you don’t understand, please tell me and I will ask the question in a different way. • If I make a mistake or don’t understand something you’ve said please tell me. I want to be sure that I understand what you’re saying.

  18. 2. Explaining the Rules • If I ask you something that makes you feel uncomfortable, you can say “I don’t want to answer”, or “stop”, or “pass” to let me know you are uncomfortable. • If you aren’t sure about an answer, don’t try to guess. Just say that you don’t know.

  19. 2. Explaining the Rules Video- Alexis and Liisa Video- Angeline and Shawenne

  20. 2. Explaining the Rules • Young children may not correct or disagree with an adult. • Children may want to please an adult in authority. • Follow sound interviewing techniques to minimize misinformation.

  21. 2. Explaining the Rules Video- Paige and Jennifer

  22. 3. Building Rapport • Children may feel nervous, anxious, upset or afraid. • Demonstrate care and concern for the child. • Ask about • Experiences at school • Relationships with friends • Interests and hobbies • Family demographics

  23. 3. Building Rapport • Open ended questions • Encourage children to share • Allow children to provide their own responses • Children feel more at ease

  24. 3. Building Rapport • Open ended questions • What are the things you like best about school? • What are some of the things you don’t like about school? • Who is in your family? • What kinds of things do you like to do with your friends?

  25. 3. Building Rapport • Closed-ended questions • What grade are you in? • Do you like sports? • Do you like math? • Does your family live in a house?

  26. 3. Building Rapport Video- Lindsay and Steve

  27. 4. Telling the Truth • As early as age four, most children can distinguish between telling the truth and telling a lie. • Children can best demonstrate their understanding of truth and lies through concrete examples of facts and non-facts. • Adolescents are often able to demonstrate more advanced understanding of the complexities of truth, lies, and exaggerations.

  28. 4. Telling the Truth Video- Steve and Lindsay

  29. 4. Telling the Truth • Young children will need age- appropriate assistance to demonstrate their understanding of truth telling

  30. 4. Telling the Truth Video- Brianne and Liisa

  31. 4. Telling the Truth • Offer examples that are: • Specific • Consistent with the child’s language • Unambiguous • Observable

  32. 4. Telling the Truth • Examples: • Can you tell me what colour my shirt is? • If I said that my shirt is blue, would I be telling the truth or telling a lie? • If someone were to tell you that this is a pencil, would that be a truth or a lie? • If someone said that it is raining inside this room, would that be true or not true?

  33. 4. Telling the Truth • Good practice to reinforce the importance of telling the truth • Jurisdictions vary on this practice • Consult with your agency and Crown prosecutor

  34. 5. Topic of Concern • Open ended questions help children talk about their lives, their families, and their overall well-being. • Day to day routine • Family context • General life experiences • Assess family functioning • Assess child’s general functioning • Identify other issues

  35. 5. Topic of Concern Video- Angeline and Shawenne

  36. 5. Topic of Concern • Some children may • be difficult to engage • be reluctant • feel ashamed • blame themselves • minimize the abuse • feel protective of their families • feel discouraged or hopeless

  37. 5. Topic of Concern Video- Jack and Diana

  38. 5. Topic of Concern • Other issues to assess: • The child’s emotional well-being • How emotional needs are being met in the family • Family dynamics that need to be addressed

  39. 6. The Disclosure • The disclosure is a critical stage • Many children disclose only after trust is established • Some children disclose early in the interview

  40. 6. The Disclosure Free Narrative • Tell me everything you can remember Open questions • What do you remember? • What happened next? • Where did this happen? • Could you tell me more about that? • When did this happen? • Tell me about a time that was different.

  41. 6. The Disclosure Focused questions • Specific but not leading • Do not introduce new information • Used to clarify information • Where was your mom when this happened? • What did your mom say when she saw the mark on your face? • What were you wearing at the time? • What time of day did this happen? • Who else saw the fight between you and your dad?

  42. 6. The Disclosure Closed questions • Should be limited • Often result in single word answers • Was your mom at home when your dad hit you? • Were you wearing pajamas when this happened? • Did your brother seed your mom fighting with you? • Suggest yes or no responses • Do not encourage elaboration • May result in affirmative but incorrect responses

  43. 6. The Disclosure Multiple Choice Questions • Are considered to be closed questions • Build on information already provided • Provide an option • You told me that this happened at home. Did this happen in the kitchen or in the living room or maybe it happened in a different room? • You said you can’t remember how many times you got hit. Did you get hit one time, or maybe it was more than one time?

  44. 6. The Disclosure Leading Questions • I want to talk to you about the reason I am here today. I understand that you told your teacher about something that happened to you. Can you tell me what you told your teacher? • I noticed that you have a bruise on your arm. Can you tell me how that happened? • My job is to make sure that you are safe- your teacher told me that you were upset because your mom hit you. What happened?

  45. 6. The Disclosure Leading Questions - May not be legally defensible - May be necessary to assess child’s safety Problematic leading questions: - Your daddy touched your peepee, didn’t he? - Did your mom abuse you?

  46. 6. The Disclosure • Review • Free narrative • Open ended questions • Focused questions • Closed questions • Summarize for understanding

  47. 6. The Disclosure Video- Paige and Jennifer

  48. 7. Clarification • Clear up inconsistencies • Gather more detailed information • Determine if there is corroborating evidence: • Witnesses to the abuse • Physical evidence • Photographs • Video or audio recordings • Other victims of abuse • Other individuals to whom the child may have disclosed

  49. 7. Clarification Video- Zach and Mark

  50. 8. Conclusion • Advise the child what will happen next: • Involvement of a child advocacy centre • Medical examination • Consultation with police • Interviews of the alleged offender • Interviews of the non-offending parent • Safety assessment and safety planning