Interviewing Children a guide to accompany the training video for child welfare social workers and forensic interviewers
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
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
Child Abuse Sexual Abuse Includes a wide range of behaviours: • Oral sex • Fondling • Penetration • Exhibitionism • Sexual exploitation • May involve violence and emotional trauma
Child Abuse Sexual Abuse • Children under age sixteen cannot consent to sexual activity. • Position of trust • Parent • Relative • Teacher • Coach • Employer
The Context of Child Abuse Investigations • Child and Family Services • Police • Medical Practitioners • Child Advocacy Centres • Prosecution of Offenders • Treatment
Qualities of a Purposeful Child Abuse Interview • Developmentally sensitive • Sensitive to child’s gender • Sensitive to child’s culture • Unbiased • Respectful
Initial Response of Child Welfare • Check agency records • Follow agency investigation protocols • Consult with police services • Conduct joint interviews • Involve child advocacy centre
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
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
1. Introduction • Child’s school • Child’s home • Child and Family Services office • Hospital • Police station • Child advocacy centre
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
1. Introduction Video- Steven and Lindsay
1. Introduction • Use common everyday words • Use short sentences • Break long questions into shorter ones • Ask one question at a time
1. Introduction Video- Angeline and Shawenne
2. Explaining the Rules Power differences exist between children and adults such as • Teachers • Social Workers • Police Officers
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.
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.
2. Explaining the Rules Video- Alexis and Liisa Video- Angeline and Shawenne
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.
2. Explaining the Rules Video- Paige and Jennifer
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
3. Building Rapport • Open ended questions • Encourage children to share • Allow children to provide their own responses • Children feel more at ease
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?
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?
3. Building Rapport Video- Lindsay and Steve
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.
4. Telling the Truth Video- Steve and Lindsay
4. Telling the Truth • Young children will need age- appropriate assistance to demonstrate their understanding of truth telling
4. Telling the Truth Video- Brianne and Liisa
4. Telling the Truth • Offer examples that are: • Specific • Consistent with the child’s language • Unambiguous • Observable
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?
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
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
5. Topic of Concern Video- Angeline and Shawenne
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
5. Topic of Concern Video- Jack and Diana
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
6. The Disclosure • The disclosure is a critical stage • Many children disclose only after trust is established • Some children disclose early in the interview
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.
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?
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
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?
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?
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?
6. The Disclosure • Review • Free narrative • Open ended questions • Focused questions • Closed questions • Summarize for understanding
6. The Disclosure Video- Paige and Jennifer
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
7. Clarification Video- Zach and Mark
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