What is a forensic interview?
A forensic interview is a single session, recorded interview designed to elicit a child’s unique information when there are concerns of possible abuse or when the child has witnessed violence against another person. The forensic interview is conducted in a supportive and non-leading manner by a professional trained in the Child First Forensic Interview Protocol model. Interviews are remotely observed by representatives of the agencies involved in the investigation (such as law enforcement, Arkansas State Police, and DHS).
We also offer extended forensic interviews. This is one interview stretched over several visits which allows the child more time to feel safe and comfortable with this environment and with us. We do not ask the same questions over and over, simply slow the process down. The Multi-Disciplinary Team will make the final decision but if you think your child might benefit from this extended model, be sure to let us know.
What should my child know about the interview?
- Children seem to be 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.
- You might say something like “We are going to the Child Safety Center. It is a safe place where kids go to talk about important stuff. The person you will be talking to talks to lots of different kids and it it’s important that you tell the truth. It’s okay to tell them everything. You are not in any trouble.”
Can I be present with my child during the interview?
- It is important for the interviewer to talk with your child alone. If something abusive has happened to your child, it might initially be difficult for your child to talk about this in front of you. If your child discloses abusive incidents it might be upsetting to you. The team has the responsibility of observing, assessing and investigating the allegations. The team’s focus must be on your child. Therefore, you are not permitted to observe the interview.
- While the interview is in progress, a Child and Family Advocate will meet with you to fill out paperwork, answer any questions and go over the typical process of an investigation. They can also assist in connecting you to beneficial resources.
- If you have other children with you, they are welcome to play in one of the waiting rooms that are equipped with age appropriate toys, tvs, books, etc. Our staff is also available to watch the children in the event you need to discuss sensitive information with professionals.
What can I expect immediately following the interview?
- At the end of the interview, the investigator will inform you about what will happen next. You will have an opportunity to ask any remaining questions and express any concerns. Unless told otherwise, you and your child are free to leave after talking with the investigators. The team will meet and develop a plan. An advocate or the investigator may contact you at a later date with more detailed information.
- If your child wants to talk about the interview, listen. Do not ask questions. Do not be concerned if your child does not want to talk about the interview. Many children are “tired” of talking and just want to “get on with it.”
- Thank your child for talking and acknowledge his or her courage. Assure your child of your love and support, no matter what was disclosed or determined during the interview.
- Avoid leading your child to think that the interview will end the process. Some cases continue into the legal system and require re-interviews or court testimony.