Why does my child have to go through this process?
With child victims and witnesses, it is very important to follow a specific protocol and use forensically-sensitive questions when gathering information. Your child will speak privately with a trained Forensic Interviewer. Our Forensic Interviewers are Master’s level counselors who are trained in talking to children using a nationally recognized protocol. The interviewer speaks with the child one-on-one in a child-friendly room and will work to make him/her feel comfortable during this process. The interviews are observed via closed circuit TV by the team of investigators involved in the case.
What should I tell my child about coming to the interview?
Give your child permission to talk about what they have disclosed. Tell your child that they will be meeting with someone who is a specialist (or you pick the word that will best relate to your child, i.e. a counselor, an interviewer, a helper, a special child person, etc) in talking to children about very difficult things. Sometimes parents will designate this person as a friend of the investigator who has opened the case (DHR or Police) if that child has a good connection with that investigator. Tell them you want him/her to answer all the questions the best they can and to tell the truth. Be general in what you tell the child (i.e, “It’s okay to tell the interviewer what you told me (or whomever they told) happened to you when you were …). Do not repeat the details of what they have disclosed and don’t ask them anymore questions- let the professionals do all the asking. Tell your child that even though they’ve told things to you (or someone else), it’s important that the information is given to the child protection people.
Will I be in the room with my child or be able to observe the interview?
Only persons who are duly designated as part of the Multi-Disciplinary Team are permitted to observe forensic interviews while they are being conducted. Parents and caregivers are not allowed to view interviews while they are being conducted. When children know their parents are watching or may watch at a later time, the accuracy and completeness of their disclosure process is compromised.
When should I tell my child that this will be taking place?
Give your child enough notice so that they don’t feel it’s a surprise to them but also don’t give too long a period to worry about what they may have to do. Usually a day or two is enough time for them to feel comfortable with this appointment.
What if my child wants to know why they just can’t tell me and let me tell the other people?
Tell your child that you might not know what questions to ask and how to ask them. Also tell them that because you love them so much, sometimes parents ask the kinds of questions that are about feelings instead of about the facts, which is why this special interviewer needs to do the asking. Assure them that they are not in any trouble with you or with the person with whom they will be talking.