This bulletin consolidates current knowledge on best practices for interviewing children in cases of alleged abuse, based on recommendations from several major forensic interview training programs.
Individual characteristics, interviewer behavior, family relationships, community influences, and cultural and societal attitudes determine whether, when, and how a particular child will disclose abuse. Although the literature cautions against duplicate interviews, some children require more time to become comfortable with the process and the interviewer. Encouraging children to provide detailed responses early in the interview improves descriptions later in the interview. Interviewers should ask open-ended questions and allow for silence or hesitation before moving to more direct, focused prompts. Although focused questions may encourage greater detail in a child's responses, they may also encourage erroneous responses if the child feels pressured to please the interviewer. Other suggestions are to conduct the interview as soon as possible after initial disclosure; record the interview electronically; hold the interview in a child-friendly environment; and consider the child's age, developmental capabilities, and culture. Suggestions are also offered on building rapport with the child.
Date Published: September 1, 2015